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Peter Lamb: The reality of policing

In his latest article, the leader of Crawley Borough Council talks about police accountability.

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It has been over five years since the Police Commissioners came into existence.

The idea had been around for some time but had never made much progress as the problem it was supposed to solve, making the police accountable to communities, was already addressed by the elected councillors who made up the Police Authority. Still, scraping around for policy ideas, the Coalition Government dusted off the proposal and here we are, so no doubt you now feel the police are far more accountable to you.

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But, how do we hold the commissioners to account, I hear you ask? Well, we have a body made up of elected councillors… just like the old Police Authority… funny old world? This is a body I’ve served on before, although given the commissioner always deflected my questions by claiming they weren’t for her but rather the Chief Inspector – who reports to her, it was an uphill struggle.

Nonetheless, I read the paperwork religiously and was interested to see next Friday’s meeting will review Sussex Police’s four year Transformation Strategy. Every part of the public sector is having to undergo ‘transformation’ in order to weather austerity and it can lead to significant performance improvements. The problem for the police is that the strategy fails to explain convincingly how what is happening now will actually improve performance.

The reality is what local residents complain to me about on a regular basis. When fireworks are thrown at cars, the police lack the resources to respond. When vehicles are broken into the police lack the resources to investigate. When a visible police presence on the high street could make a difference, it is left to door supervisors to keep law and order in the town centre. That’s the ‘lived’ reality and no pie chart is going to explain it away.

Cllr Peter Lamb

Leader, Crawley Borough Council

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Francis Guidera

Cllr Guidera: Is maintaining Queens Sq really too much to ask?

Tilgate Cllr Francis Guidera has spoken out about what he calls the ‘filthy’ state of newly refurbished Queens Square in Crawley.

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In an open letter Cllr Guidera says:

“Queen’s Square is costing the tax payer millions to renovate, but if you sat in Queen’s Square today you would be forgiven for thinking that the paving slabs had been down for a decade!

It is utterly filthy, highlighted by the patch in the centre where the fountain operates which is of course clean and shows what the rest looked like when it was installed just over a year ago.

The issue of keeping the square clean after it was done (including chewing gum) was raised by many councillors at consultation meetings before they began the work, and Ifield Councillor Peter Smith (Labour cabinet member for planning and economic development) assured us that these stones would be coated with a substance that helps to repel dirt… well, if they were I hope he’s asking for a refund because it clearly doesn’t work!

Perhaps Councillor Geraint Thomas would like to comment on the state of it also as the cabinet member for environmental services and sustainability? I’ve been told that council staff still do not have the right equipment to properly clean it. Why not? And then there’s The Pavement (the footpath down the side of M&S) which hasn’t even been fully opened yet and there are already issues. The block paving is uneven with gaps and paving stones at randomly different levels across the entirety of it! If this was someone’s driveway they’d rightfully be demanding answers for such a shoddy job!

So to sum up, the first bit is now filthy and hasn’t been looked after properly and the second bit is badly done and isn’t even finished yet…

As a Crawley-born local I’m very proud of this town and a basic thing like keeping Queen’s Square looking decent is not much to ask of the council.

While I’m writing this, I might as well (again) mention that Chichester Close play area urgently needs renovating… (just asking for a few thousand Tilgate residents)…”

Tilgate Councillor Francis Guidera

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