Overnight closure of Stratford Centre to continue for another 18 months
- Credit: Ken Mears
Councillors agreed to the 18 month overnight closure of the Stratford Centre after previous closures saw significant falls in anti-social behaviour and rough sleeping.
At a cabinet meeting on January 11, an experimental traffic order was approved meaning that the centre, which is designated as public highway, will close to pedestrians between 9pm and 5am each night.
Authorised access would only be granted for Rooftop East, exiting by 11.15pm, and for some supermarkets and fast food outlets until 10.30pm.
Temporary closure orders have already been in place since the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020.
In 2019, the centre became increasingly frequented by rough sleepers, with around 80 people a night sheltering there, a council report said.
Police data also showed an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour, it added.
The March 2020 court order was obtained due to public health risks relating to the pandemic and a succession of closure orders on public health grounds have been made since.
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Cllr Zulfiqar Ali, cabinet member for health and adult social care, told the meeting he felt the benefits have been enormous.
"We have accommodated over 680 rough sleepers and achieved a significant reduction in rough sleeping."
The report said anti-social behaviour calls to police within a 500 metre radius of the centre between December 2020 and February 2021 fell almost 46 per cent.
It said: "There is clear evidence from the crime and ASB data that has been provided that having the closure orders in place has reduced both crime of all types and anti-social behaviour significantly within the Stratford shopping mall area."
Cllr Ali claimed that stakeholders such as traders appreciated the overnight closure and want it to continue.
"This is something that is desperately needed in order to make sure the benefits we have achieved so far continues and that the Stratford Mall remains an attractive place for shoppers, as well as people who use it for going to Westfield and other areas."
There will be pre-engagement discussions with traders, centre management and emergency services before the order is implemented, he added.
Tony Peters, centre manager, said: "We have seen both retailers and shoppers benefit through an enhanced environment and overall shopping experience."
The first six months of the traffic order will form the public consultation and feedback will be taken into consideration when deciding whether to make the order permanent, the council said.