BOURNEMOUTH could be getting ‘town rangers’ to patrol the streets and help visitors.

They would wear brightly coloured jackets and liaise with the police and shops.

The ‘Bournemouth Town Rangers’ are in the plan for the town centre Business Improvement District (BID).

Their mission would be to ‘reduce anti-social behaviour on the streets, be a welcoming presence, and make it a safe, friendly place’.

Bournemouth will only get the rangers if the town centre’s 561 businesses vote in favour of a BID this spring.

Patrick Weir, head of Rugby’s BID, briefed police officers, council officials and the Daily Echo on how the scheme works there.

His seven rangers cost £175,000 a year and carry out two shifts covering 8am to 6pm.

They have no special powers but use radios to liaise with pub watch and shop net and Mr Weir has daily meetings with the police. He said shoplifting was down 50 per cent.

The Rugby Rangers have a sister team of three cleaners. Mr Weir said: “I challenge people to find half a dozen pieces of chewing gum on our streets because we have removed everything.”

Other duties include being a friendly face to visitors, calling into shops, and carrying out special projects – like making the town’s Christmas grotto.

Mr Weir said the rangers fitted around the police, traffic wardens and other officials without “stealing jobs.”

Gregg Dunnett, the town centre BID co-ordinator, said: “We don’t face the same levels of trouble as Rugby and we get far more visitors.

“Therefore the ‘friendly face of the town’ aspect is likely to be more important for the proposed Bournemouth Town Rangers.”

Tony Brown, head of Beales department store chain and chairman of the BID steering group, pictured inset, has looked at similar teams in other towns.

He told the Echo: “People get used to them as they visit and they have an effect on crime and littering. I think they would make a significant difference to Bournemouth town centre.”

Cllr Dave Smith, head of communities, said: “I would support anything that made the streets a safer and more pleasant place.”

The BID team has proposed Town Rangers to combat the concerns raised by businesses.

People said street drinkers and vagrants drove shoppers to Castle Point because it does not have any beggars.

Other concerns included shoplifting and Stags and Hen parties – the latter is a particular concern for restaurateurs on Christchurch Road.

Traders also said visitors can’t find shops that are not on Old Christchurch Road and Commercial Road.

Business Improvements Districts (BIDS) have been created around the country.

They already operate in Wimborne and Dorchester though Southampton voted against one in 2009.

Businesses within a defined area pay an extra levy, typically one to three per cent of their business rates.

A one per cent bid works out at about £100 for a small cafe, and £10,000 a year for a large department store. Bournemouth town centre would raise £340,000 a year with a one per cent levy.

The money is used to improve the trading environment. It might go on extra signs, more street cleaning, marketing or car parking subsidies.

BIDS need to win approval from 50 per cent of the businesses and those in favour need to make up at least 50 per cent of the area’s rateable value.