Local matters with Mike Wood MIKE WOOD
The football season is already upon us and Bishop’s Stortford FC have been moved by the Football authorities from Blue Square South to Blue Square North, it is very odd indeed for a team situated next to a London Airport to play with teams from the north of England with a trip to Blyth on Saturday August 20th a
really long trek for the club and its supporters in fact 530 miles round trip.Ma
ybe the football administrators need to establish a middle England division for the northern home counties and midlands areas in order to reduce the carbon footprint if its clubs and make it easier on the finances of struggling football clubs.
I see that the County Highways authority is to turn streets lights off after midnight in residential roads until early morning across the County. This is to save electricity costs, save money and be more environment friendly. The scheme is to be rolled out gradually district by district having already started in Welwyn Hatfield and then Broxbourne and then on to St Albans, it will commence in East Herts next summer (2012). In winter lights will go back on for the morning rush hours I am sure sales of torches will improve!
The next few weeks will see decisions on two major planning applications that will affect Stortford for years to come. The Hendersons site application will be decided on August 25th at a Development Control Commitee meeting being held at the Charis Centre, in the papers for the meeting the Planning Officers are recommending approval. This recommendation has been
greeted with incredulity by people in the town. Lets see what the Development Committee make of it.
Then in the third week of September the Planning Inspectorate will hold its hearing into the schools appeal against the District Council’s planning refusal of the application. The Inspector held a Pre-Enquiry hearing at the Charis Centre and nearly 100 Stortford residents turned up to show the Inspector the strength of feeling in the town. One issue that was decided was that the Enquiry must be held in Stortford and not at Hertford. Because the enquiry could last three weeks neither Rhodes nor the Charis Centre could offer a space for three weeks, so in the end after the Inspector looked at Rhodes and the Waytemore Room he agreed that most of the enquiry will be at the Waytemore Room with the two opening days at Charis and Rhodes.
By the end of August the District Council offices will have seen its staff all depart to Hertford and work from there or from home. The new smaller offices on the corner of Bridge Street and the Causeway will remain and should be able to handle any issues. But this diminished presence of the Council in our town I feel will only further marginalise the town within the District and I agree with those who say that the future of Stortford may lie elsewhere rather than in East Herts.
Councillor Mike Wood
The Even Thinner Blue Line with John Battersby JOHN BATTERSBY
As with many local authorities Hertfordshire County Council has to make substantial cuts to its police budget. Cuts of 20% in the existing County Council Police budget will mean a reduction of over 500 frontline police officers across Hertfordshire.
These numbers are being repeated across
the country with the result that nationally, cuts in frontline officers will total some 16,000 officers; which coincidentally is the number of police officers that had to be deployed on the streets of London in order to bring the riots under control. The only way that it was possible to deploy this number of police was the fact that officers were drafted in from other forces, such as Hertfordshire. If these cuts go ahead then, in the event of future events of social disorder such as those that have occurred in recent weeks, this will no longer be possible.
Yet the government is still determined to press ahead with the cuts in police budgets with the extraordinary spectacle of the Coalition Policing Minister, Nick Herbert’ claiming that there is no connection between police numbers and the effectiveness of combating criminal activity. If that is the case, why was it necessary to bring an extra 10,000 police officers onto the streets of London in order to do just that?
The government claims that their savage cuts to police budgets are necessary, whilst at the same time continuing to press ahead with spending an extra £100 million on establishing elected Police commissioners, adding more bureaucracy.
The government has tried to claim that the cuts can proceed by reducing so called ‘backroom’ staff and in doing this avoid cuts in frontline officers. Presumably these backroom staff includes
4 Bishop’s Stortford Flyer | September 2011
those responsible for recruitment and training of police officers, forensic staff and those involved in the gathering and processing of criminal intelligence.
David Cameron’s dismissal of backroom staff has not always been his position as evidenced by a speech to the Police Foundation when he was Leader of the Opposition. In this he stated, “I welcome the increase in police numbers and we can take these reforms forward by recruiting civilian staff who can increasingly replace sworn officers for routine administrative tasks, so releasing them for the very frontline duties they signed up to perform.”
In fact no-one, outside the government really believes the assertion that frontline police officers can be protected from the cuts. In Hertfordshire for example, there would have to be cuts of some 82% of support staff. Even senior Conservative politicians do not believe it. In a recent interview, the Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson stated that, “The Government’s case on this issue has always been frail.” He then went on to say, “If you ask me whether I think there is a case for cutting police budgets… in the light of these events, then my answer to that would be a ‘no’.”
It is time the government recognized the weight of argument against these damaging and dangerous cuts and remembers that the prime duty of any government is the protection and security of the public.
John Battersby Treasurer Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth Labour Party
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