Monday, 18 April 2011

Local vandalism

I have not blogged for a couple of weeks. But I have admonished myself and off we go again.

In recent months, I have worked to help raise monies to improve play facilities in my local Parish, including at the Fraddon Millennium Green where I am a trustee. At this location. it included new seats for parents in the play area, one of which was recently smashed up by vandals. They also attempted to do other damage.

My anger at this formed the centrepiece for my recent column in the Cornish Guardian, which also featured my concern at cuts to police budgets. The article, which appeared last week, was as follows:

The Home Secretary Theresa May and the Police Minister Nick Herbert have stated that the number of frontline police officers need not be reduced – even though the Government is chopping £2 billion from police budgets.

As a long-standing critic of the depth and severity of the cuts, I simply do not accept their claims.

The “Devon and Cornwall” Police Force faces a massive cut of £47 million over the next four years and Chief Constable Stephen Otter has announced that the cuts will lead to the loss of some 700 police officers and up to 500 other staff members.

I hold local Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers in very high esteem. The job they do in our local communities is extremely important and should be protected, but I am fearful that the service could be undermined by the cuts.

Here in Cornwall, we experience lower levels of criminal activity than in many places throughout the UK and I consider it fortunate that, in my home parish, there is little criminal activity.

But like all communities, we do experience anti-social behaviour and vandalism. And the work of the Police in combatting such activities is something that I, as a local councillor, have always been extremely grateful for.

I am one of the trustees of the Fraddon Millennium Green and last year we spent £10,000 on improvements. This included erecting new metal fencing around the play area and replacing netting that had regularly been vandalised, the refurbushment of some play equipment and two new wooden seats for parents to use when in the park.

I was therefore extremely saddened, last week, when I had a phonecall which informed that me that one of the seats had been smashed up and the waste bin damaged. Closer examination of one piece of play equipment also showed repeated attempts to set it on fire.

I am pleased to be able to report that the Police are already investigating and making regular visits to the Millennium Green to monitor activities.

It is my hope that the Government will not allow their cuts to prevent such vital work from taking place and, when necessary, will support the local Police with further funding.

We have active and engaged police officers and PCSOs at the heart of our communities. It needs to stay that way and no politician should seek to damage what is working.

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