Saturday, 16 November 2013

Residents Frustrated With 'Neighbourhood' Policing In Rural Areas

As residents of West Berkshire we are lucky to live in a local authority area with relatively low levels of crime. And as residents of Aldermaston ward we are even luckier that our villages are among the safest in the district - at least, that's what we are led to believe!

While out campaigning members of your local Focus team attended several 'Have Your Say' [ref] events to meet local PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers). These 'Police surgeries' are intended to demonstrate engagement with communities and gather feedback regarding local policing priorities, yet they are often scheduled at times and places when members of the public are least likely to be able to attend and we found that they are also regularly cancelled without notice.

As a result engagement and feedback can be less than expected, and LibDems continue to receive occasional complaints that residents' concerns are overlooked. Since promises of accessibility fail to match public demands this may be leading to misidentification of local priorities by the Police authority.

In Aldermaston ward (Aldermaston, Brimpton, Midham Wasing and Woolhampton parishes) worries are compounded by the way neighbourhood policing teams are divided - after recent reorganisations Brimpton and Aldermaston villages are now included in the renamed 'Thatcham West' patrol area, while Midgham and Woolhampton are designated part of the 'Bucklebury/Downlands' area (although crime statistics are collected along different lines, see links below).

This has the consequence that Police resources become concentrated where priority reports are made - in Thatcham, and in Hermitage and Upper Bucklebury - meaning our villages fall between between two stools.

Almost 1/4 of all reported crime in Bucklebury/Downlands occurs in our ward, yet this is completely ignored in the Neighbourhood Policing Newsletter!

And since incidence of crime can quickly flare up as Police visibility falls your local LibDems are concerned that the neighbourhood policing boundaries do not reflect the needs of residents.

Aldermaston ward campaigner James Spackman commented,
"the way neighbourhood patrol areas are currently organised is failing both Police Officers and members of the public. Particularly during a time of austerity it's important to make sure we make the best use of available resources."

Check out Thames Valley Police performance figures from 2010-2013

Look the crime maps for:
Check Policing priorities for:

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Reactions to Proposed Budget Cuts

On November 5th West Berkshire Conservatives announced their proposals to cut more than £5m per year from its £120m annual budget.

Watch WBC Leader, Cllr Gordon Lundie (Lambourn), explain his reasoning here.

He stated that he would be seeking ways to save the services that people 'value most' by passing on the cost to local town and parish councils.

Speaking to Newbury Weekly News, Cllr Lundie said "there will inevitably be some redundancies" - but Liberal Democrats in West Berkshire think any blow could be softened.

LibDem Opposition leader, Cllr Jeff Brooks (Thatcham West), commented that "the council has withdrawn funding from the old and the young and will still have millions in the bank," - under the tories it's always the vulnerable who suffer most!

Cllr Brooks described the proposals as "very, very swingeing cuts," and added that Mr Lundie would be known as "the man who stole all the lollipop ladies... he will scare people".

The news has been met with dismay and shock, as recent grant funding reductions of £3m/year were managed by removing some discretionary services, including cutting transport budgets and youth services in 2010, closure of 5 youth centres in 2011, followed in 2012 by cuts to services for the elderly and disabled, victims of domestic abuse and the homeless.

However, just as the economy bounces back from the credit crunch, tories have decided that now is the time to take even more drastic action affecting the worst off in society!

This time cuts will concentrate on vulnerable adults and parenting support, health and social care services, transport and cultural services. Reading Post goes into more detail here.

But the greatest political controversy was reserved for the 50% reduction in subsidy to local theatres.

Remembering its past closure and reopening, and outreach work undertaken with schools and young people to engage and inspire their interests, director of Newbury Corn Exchange Katy Griffiths spoke out against the tory proposals, saying:
"we will be making sure that decision makers at the Council understand the far-reaching and unintended consequences that a cut this substantial would have for the local community."
Make sure you do too!

For a full list of proposed cuts and how to respond to the consultation click the links below:

Public transportLibrariesChildren's centres
Roads and verge maintenanceSchool crossing patrolsHealth related services
Car parkingTourismSupport for disabled children
Public conveniencesDuke of Edinburgh's Award ProgrammeParenting support
TheatresSupporting people in need of carePre-school Teacher Counselling
Services to vulnerable young peoplePlanning enforcementRoad safety


Sign and share West Berkshire Liberal Democrats' online petition against these unnecessary and unfair cuts!

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, call upon West Berkshire Council to use all available resources to avoid the very severe cuts proposed by the Council on 5th November 2013 as these would disproportionally affect the disabled, vulnerable old and young people, those who live in rural areas, the safety of schoolchildren and other road users, and the already poor condition of our roads.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Signs o' the Crime

While out campaigning your local Focus team has been made aware of a particular local phenomenon - a spate of posters independently pinned to telegraph poles and noticeboards asking for information about different local crime incidents.

Here are photos of just two:

While the posters identify relatively minor incidents, they also reflect widely-expressed concerns about deprioritisation of crime levels in rural areas - such as the village parishes in Aldermaston ward.

Local campaigner James Spackman said,
"it's important to keep our eyes open for signs of crime, as the ability to share information will help pin-point local needs and prevent potential escalation in the future."