COUNCIL officers are looking at ways to make town centre businesses safer after a spate of burglaries earlier in the year.

A number of businesses in Accrington town centre were broken into in October and, at the time, Cllr Lisa Allen had called on the council to relax rules preventing shopkeepers from installing shutters in the town centre conservation area so that their businesses were protected from thieves.

But Hyndburn Council leader Cllr Miles Parkinson said at the time of the burglaries he was firmly against allowing shutters in the conservation area because he did not want Accrington town centre to look like “inner-city Toxteth”.

He added the council would work with police to try and tackle the problem.

At a council cabinet meeting earlier this week, Cllr Parkinson said officers were looking at ways of making businesses more secure.

The reassurance came after Cllr Allen asked for an update on what action was being taken.

Chief planning and transportation officer Simon Prideaux is examining what can be done to improve the situation.

Current conservation area rules prevent shop owners in certain parts of the town from installing shutters to protect their windows from being smashed or people breaking in.

Cllr Parkinson said: “Simon is liaising with planning members to come forward with ideas for what can be done to make sure these properties are safe and secure.

“I know he has promised to put together a briefing paper and a more detailed paper in due course.

“This has been brought forward because of the rise in the number of burglaries which are not just upsetting for those trying to run a business in the town centre but to the council and residents as well.

“Hopefully this report will be forthcoming shortly.”

Previously, fears had been raised the problem may get worse in the context of cuts to Hyndburn’s neighbourhood policing team, which will be reduced from 14 members to seven.

Officers wanting to stay within neighbourhood teams are being interviewed for their own jobs, while across Lancashire 15 roles have been created in CID departments, 55 in response and others in targeted crime teams.

No redundancies are being made as a result of the changes, which have been described as a ‘redeployment of resources’ by the force.