Councillors from Penzance have called a public meeting to decide whether £25,000 of public money should be spent hiring private security guards with police powers to patrol the streets.

Councillor Nigel Pengelly made the announcement on his A Future for Penzance Facebook page, where he said that the meeting will be held in St John's Hall on Tuesday June 12.

He told the Packet: "Over the last fortnight there seems to be increasing incidents of anti-social behaviour. I was nearly mugged on the way back from a function.

"There's been a lot of shouting and aggressive behaviour on the street. There's been fighting in the street, there's been murders, there's been a general feeling of intimidation and violence in the street. It has reached levels where shopkeepers are being threatened in their shops."

When asked about the potential danger of private guards being given powers to arrest people, councillor Pengelly said: "I am not actually advocating giving police powers to anybody. I don't want a bunch of heavies walking around, moving people around.

"I think we need to make sure that if we have any town wardens, they have to be accountable. I'd hate to see anyone abusing their power."

Opinion on social media was divided, with some commenters in favour of the plan and others less enthusiastic.

Jake Graves wrote on Facebook: "If you have 25k to hand surely it would be a better idea to invest in drop in life/mental/addiction, coaching sessions, shelter, drug testing facilities? Or are you more concerned about pushing people with problems away to try and improve the image of a dilapidated town?"

Jenna Luke wrote: "Thank you for at least trying to do something positive. You’re right, enough is enough."

The former town mayor also said that local businesses have agreed to match fund 50% of the money towards the project.

On his Facebook post on A Future for Penzace, Nigel Pengelly wrote:

"We cannot afford to have this developing image of Penzance as a haven for drop outs, beggars, drug addicts and drunks.

"I realise there are some very genuine people that need help but there are also a large number of malcontents and scroungers and drug dealers infiltrating the situation.

"We need better intelligence to help combat the situation.

"With no obvious or tangible action being taken by Cornwall Council or the police, it's time this town council stepped in to support the people of this town. We'll see how many other town councillors (and local Cornwall councillors) choose to support Dick, Nigel and myself."