Andover BID’s rangers have suffered a blow after a proposal for town council funding went unapproved by councillors.

At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (September 16), councillors were asked “to consider whether the Town Council would support the Town Ranger initiative by contributing funds to the scheme.”

The town council was asked to fund around 15% of the Rangers costs, with the potential that this funding would lead to the patrol area of the rangers being extended to other “hotspots” in the town, with Vigo Park mentioned as an example.

Cllr Christopher Ecclestone said that he was concerned about police coverage in the town, and that “it shouldn’t be the job of an extra security force paid for by the shopkeepers and the BID contributors, and by this proposal our tax payers.”

Cllr David Coole was worried that the town “could actually end up losing police coverage because we are employing street rangers.”

“Their presence could actually reduce crime rates,” he said, “which then have an implication on whether we actually require PCSOs.” He added: “That’s something I wouldn’t want to encourage.”

Cllr Lauren Banville said that while she “thought it was a good idea at first,” she was now against the proposals, saying that she had “heard awful, awful things” about the response of local schoolchildren to them. “I don’t think people will take them seriously unless there’s police about,” she said.

Cllr Luigi Gregori described the proposal as “a car crash.”

“All we got is a publicity stunt from Venture Security, who’s running the rangers,” he said. “I’m very concerned about their powers… and the public perception so far is far from positive. I’ve seen more policemen since the rangers have appeared.”

Cllr Gregori subsequently proposed a motion, seconded by Cllr Coole, to proceed to the next motion without a vote on the proposals, which was carried by the council.

Steve Godwin, Andover BID Manager, said: “One of the aims of BID is to work in partnership with local stakeholders and this would have been an opportunity for Andover Town Council to join BID, TVBC and police in supporting an initiative for the benefit of the local people, businesses and the town.”

He continued: “We will continue to reach out to them with initiatives for the benefit of the town, its businesses and its residents.”