CALLS to allow town centre shops in Accrington to install shutters after a spate of break-ins have been rubbished.

Hyndburn Council leader, Cllr Miles Parkinson, said he did not want the town centre to look like “inner-city Toxteth” and added the council would work with police to try and tackle the problem.

Cllr Lisa Allen 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.

She said: “Surely a row of shops shuttered up at night is better than a row of empty shops.”

But Cllr Parkinson was adamant he would not budge on the issue of shutters, though there would be extra money made available for CCTV.

Conservative group leader, Cllr Tony Dobson, said: "In the last week there has been another spate of break-ins on Water Street and Warner Street.

"As a council we have a duty to try and do something with the police and nip this in the bud because before we know it, we will have shopkeepers leaving our best streets.

"They feel they are being targeted."

Cllr Gareth Molyneux said he feared 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.

Bosses have refused to release figures, despite requests, but the Lancashire Telegraph understands in Hyndburn PC numbers will reduce from 14 to 7 and from 13 to six in Pendle.

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 and are expected to come in this year.

Cllr Parkinson said: "Once upon a time the fire service only dealt with fire calls but modernisation meant it changed and became preventative.

"Police used to be preventative but they have become a reactive service where they only go out after a crime has been committed and you often phone them up and they won't come out until the next week - that's down to resources.

"It's up to the police and crime commissioner and the chief constable how they use their resources.

"Community policing is the most important thing residents want and it seems to be that which is affected the most.

"I understand the concern of shopkeepers but I don't want the town centre to look like inner-city Toxteth where you see shutters down all the time because it gives an appaling appearance."

Earlier this week, businesswoman Melanie Fishwick hit out at thieves after they again broke the window of her shop and stole charity boxes.

It is only two weeks since she got the window of Sweet Treat Designs on Water Street, Accrington, repaired after vandals had attacked it in June.

She now faces another repair bill after vandals damaged the window overnight on Tuesday at the shop which sells chocolate and sweet bouquets.

She said there were six other shops in Accrington which had their windows broken last week.

On Tuesday last week, thieves smashed their way into Cafe 33 on Warner Street in Accrington overnight and stole a laptop and some cash from the business, which opened in May.

Faatimah Girach of Taste'N'Save on Infant Street has also been affected.

The front window of her shop was smashed on Monday night and £30 was taken from the till.

An iPod was also stolen.

She has been in business in the area for 11 years and believes something has to be done to help protect business owners in the area.

She said: "It is so upsetting I came to work at 7.30am and see the damage.

"There have been a few others on our street including the Infant St Fish and Chip Shop and then Aroma Cafe on our street has been hit in the past few weeks.

"Also on other streets there are shops that have been broken into.

"There is nothing to prevent them from doing it.

"As businesses we need some sort of CCTV system or other things to stop us being broken into.

"After it happened to other businesses I rang the police to see if there was anything to prevent it happening and they said CCTV but the cost of getting that is a lot.

"I want the council to help local traders as it is hard enough to run a business.

"We have had to put up boards costing £140 and I lost a day of takings because it was closed for the forensics as there was a blood trail.

"Hopefully they can catch them but I am still out of pocket and will not get the money back."