Epsom’s dynamic police inspector is backing plans to turn the historic market town into an evening entertainment and shopping hotspot.
Neighbourhood Inspector Craig Knight said he is "absolutely behind" Epsom’s business development manager Adam Worley’s plans to stimulate the evening economy in Epsom by having shops open later and offering entertainment for visitors.
The charity challenge-loving policeman said the focus of Epsom’s evening identity needs to change from one of ‘late night’ to ‘late evening’, believing that the town is simply not suitable to develop further the former.
Speaking to the Epsom Guardian on a break from the beat, he said: "Adam Worley and I discussed late evening opening at an early stage and I concur with what he is saying.
"At the moment, Epsom’s identity is a bit blurred. It’s full of opportunity and the people who live and work here are the ones who come here.
"If you then turn somewhere like this into an evening economy and had a different sort of licensing in operation that would change the feel of the town completely.
"I don’t think Epsom is a suitable place for a nightclub and a late-night economy and that’s not because the bars and clubs are not being run properly, but because the infrastructure necessary for it isn’t in place to get people into and out of Epsom quickly. You would end up stranded of a night."
Insp Knight said developing the offering around cinemas, theatres and shopping in the evening would be a positive move.
He said: "Epsom effectively dies between seven to eight and 10pm, it’s not as vibrant as it could be.
"It’s about changing the emphasis to ‘let’s go into Epsom tonight as a family’. We have got the resources, as long as the town makes a decision about where it wants its economy to be.
"We would have to look very carefully at how we deal with it but it’s very achievable as long as resources are structured around moving away from a night-time economy to a later evening one.
"If the town is seriously genuine about driving forward a late evening economy we have to retract from a night time economy to do it.
"The question the people of Epsom need to be asked is what is it that they want from their town. Epsom just needs to understand where it wants its perception to be."
He said the police force is flexible and can react to demand, but later evening opening every day would be a challenge for his 15-strong team of police officers, considering officers from other areas already have to come in to help his team patrol the town at night on weekends.
Insp Knight added: "I will happily police whatever I’m told to.
"But we can only pull the team we have in so many directions.
"If you tell me to just police Tuesdays I can do this very well, but it’s probably somewhere in between that [and every evening].
"We already have other people coming in from other areas to police the night-time economy in Epsom.
"The police officers who are going to do it need to have that local knowledge."