Earlier this week, we highlighted the choices on offer so far of candidates to be the next Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire at the election on Thursday 5th May.
Why anyone would want to do this job is beyond us – though a salary in the region of £65,000 a year is a highly alluring incentive, we suppose. Somehow, we doubt that Lincolnshire voters will be any more enthusiastic this time around than they were in 2012, when PCCs were introduced. The turnout then was 83,736 from an electorate of 547,843 – an apathetic 15.28%. Nationally, the turnout was the worst for a nationwide poll in British political history.
Before PCCs, we had a county police committee – which seemed far more sensible. It operated under the umbrella of the county council – with proportional cross-party representation and a one-third membership of local magistrates. Why it is now deemed to be a political appointment is anyone’s guess. As a for instance, if a Home Secretary ordered a Tory PCC to make savage budget cuts, in Lincolnshire the foregone conclusion is that they would bend the knee and say “how much …?”
And talking of Home Secretaries …
According to Theresa “Daisy” May, PCCs “have proved that they are vital to making local communities safer.”
In a gung-ho message to the Tory faithful, she reminds them that they hire and fire Chief Constables; are responsible for police budgets; set local priorities (like tackling anti-social behaviour or cracking down on burglaries and thefts) and make sure the police act on them; and have helped to ensure that crime continues to fall and that people in this country continue to be kept safe.
In Lincolnshire, we imagine that our PCC took the first item on the list more literally than others – wrongly suspending the Chief Constable in a move which cost taxpayers £160,000.
As far as the rest of Daisy’s claims are concerned, we are not so sure that they have been greatly successful – though outgoing commissioner Alan Hardwick says: “"I am simply retiring but I can do so knowing that I have achieved what I have set out to do as commissioner.” Perhaps he could remind us.
Meanwhile in a report released yesterday, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary says Lincolnshire Police requires improvement in the way it keeps people safe and needs to improve the quality of its crime investigation.
So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to hear a report from a reader from a reader which beggared belief. After a neighbour had items stolen from her car, the police were offered clear CCTV footage of the thief at work – but declined it. The crime remains unsolved.
It was also interesting to note a report which came and went on the Lincolnshire Echo website yesterday which said that “shock” figures show that two thirds of the drug, alcohol and mental health charity Addaction users in Boston are Eastern European. This is the sort of problem which is repeatedly denied. So we were not especially surprised when we tried to revisit the site to be told: “Sorry … page not found. Warning: The page you have requested does not exist or is no longer available.”
The Boston Town Area Committee – B-Tacky – meets on Tuesday with just one item on the agenda – a verbal report by the chairman of the “Prosperous Boston” Task and Finish Group, Councillor Judith Skinner. This shadowy group is not only carrying out its 18 month long mission behind the scenes in closed meetings which are not even formally minuted, but is now delivering a report in a way which guarantees that most taxpayers will remain unaware of the contents. Why all the secrecy?
Talking of B-Tacky, it’s also disappointing that the committee does so little to serve the purpose for which it is intended. The committee comprises 14 members representing Boston’s “town” wards – which are surcharged to pay for the committee and its services.
Despite having these representatives, seldom – if ever – do we find members raising issues relating to their wards. Instead the committee gives away grants to almost anyone who asks for them. Perhaps if the committee took more trouble to stay in touch with the electorate, they might discover what people really want – instead of advertising once a year with offers of up to £1,000 to individuals and groups who “want to contribute directly to their town centre community.” Invariably this gets a good response, and such brilliant ideas in the past have included a grant for people to chalk on the pavement, and £1,000 for a jumbo street vacuum cleaner that has scarcely been used since it was cantered out for publicity.
The committee also authorised the removal of many amenity benches to try to stop anti-social loitering and drinking – even in areas where there wasn’t a problem. If the council is serious about saving money, it could close B-Tacky down for starters.
Worst Street is again rubbing its hands with glee at the prospect of exercising the iron hand in an iron glove policy which it so admires. This time it involves the micro chipping of dogs – which becomes compulsory from April 6th. The Boston Borough Beano tells us: “Authorised officers from Boston Borough Council and the police will have the powers to issue legal notices to pet owners whose dog is not micro chipped … A fine of up to £500 can be issued or an enforcing authority can seize the dog and microchip it at the owner’s expense.” Normally we would think it unlikely that either the council or the police would bother with this rigmarole. Having said that, we know how Worst Street loves flexing its muscles in this way whenever possible – so we await events with interest.
We’re grateful to South Holland District Council’s website for reminding us that today is the last day of public consultation on the new local plan for South East Lincolnshire, which will guide the development and use of land up until 2036, including provision of 18,000 homes in the Boston and Spalding area. Unfortunately Worst Street seems far too preoccupied telescoping consultation dates for the council tax increase, threatening dog owners and harmless brown bin entrepreneurs with a public flogging or worse than to remind us of any really important news.
One of our local lottery outlets is proudly displaying a sign to say that a ticket bought from them has scooped £1 million. If the lucky winner is reading this, please get in touch – we could use a loan to move somewhere nice!
Finally, our eye was caught by this recipe for “Medieval filo purses” from the Boston off-Target
“One pack of filo pastry …?”
Just like they made it in King Henry’s day, then.
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