Police commissioners: do we need them?
THE election of police and crime commissioners (PCCs) is an American idea supported by central government. We are told that a Northumbrian PCC would receive £85,000 annually, with his/her support team paid out of the shrinking budget of Northumbria Police.
Yet at a time of high unemployment, limited training often of low standing and when Northumbria Police will lose around 900 officers in the next three years as well as a proportion of back-up jobs, is a PCC affordable?
We know that our current Home Secretary, Theresa May, supports the appointment of PCCs, just as we know that some of her policies and decisions in the past have been dubious. But what Mrs May wants Mrs May gets, and according to the Conservative Party pamphlet, Mrs May wants Phil Butler as her Conservative PCC for Northumbria.
No doubt a worthy and experienced policeman, but poor Mr Butler seems to be a man of weak judgement. He has misunderstood the role of PCC as defined in ‘Choose my PCC’. “The job of the PCC will be to oversee the police and ensure they are prioritising what matters to you”, as described by the Secretary of State for the Home Department.
He seems to have conflated the roles of chief constable and PCC. He is an example of the manipulation by sectional interest of a sincere but misguided candidate.
Is the process of selection of PCCs transparent?
Many electors feel as I do, that the role of the PCC is superfluous in England and we should improve the present system and practice.
At the present time of economic stringency the £500,000 central government is spending on PCCs cannot be justified nor can the extra burden for police authorities to pay for servicing their teams.
By politicising PCCs, by making them directly responsible to central government and by using inappropriate candidates (such as the example here of a former policeman with his old loyalties and his police mindset) the process risks confusing the electorate and laying PCCs open to charges of partiality or favouritism.
Is the PCC process fit for purpose? Or is this a deliberate cover for a further slide into a police state?
Conservatives have had chance to scrap charges
I WANT to address some misunderstandings and misrepresentations in sometime Independent and now Conservative Cllr Gordon Castle’s recent comments on parking charges in Northumberland.
On so many issues of importance to our county, from parking charges to school funding, the Liberal Democrats running Northumberland County Council act in a responsible manner and make policy with a view to the longer term, only to be attacked by Conservatives with both eyes firmly on May’s elections.
The Conservatives, despite their posturing now, could have chosen to scrap charges when in power on Castle Morpeth District Council but actually decided to increase them. In addition, Conservatives in Berwick supported parking charge increases to help balance budgets. It is much easier to blindly and opportunistically oppose a policy than it is to constructively propose your own.
It is evident that deep down the Conservatives recognise this – when they have had opportunities at county council meetings to scrap parking charges, they have sat on their hands and refused to vote to do so.
I believe parking charges exist in the market towns purely for traffic management purposes and are not intended to be a money-spinner. That is why the Lib-Dem run council has slashed charges in Berwick to bring them in line with other towns, scrapped charges entirely on Sundays in Alnwick, Berwick and Hexham and not introduced Sunday charges in Morpeth.
But scrap charges across the board and there would either be chaos in already busy car parks across the county, or the cost of administering time limits would be prohibitive. You would still need car park attendants in towns.
I hope drivers who regularly use Northumberland’s car parks will look at the excellent value permit schemes. The Shoppers’ Permit costs just £15 for two years for unlimited off-peak parking in a number of market town car parks. I’ve bought an annual pass which I think is great value at under £2.50 per week – and no more hunting for change when I need to nip into town or parking for the day.
DR CLARE MILLS
The Dunterns, Alnwick
Positive signs, but a puzzling policy change
I WAS astonished, given their history of fierce resistance to applications and indeed enforcement action against small businesses seeking to advertise their business by means of signs by the roadside, to read that the council were seeking permission to put advertising boards on their roundabouts.
The council’s main objection in the past is, I believe, that they have not wanted the roadside cluttered and drivers distracted by unnecessary signs which might then represent a safety hazard. If this was so, one would think a roundabout might be about the most dangerous place possible to put such signs.
However perhaps this indicates a more tolerant and supportive approach to signage? Perhaps they have noted that the more supportive regime applied in Scotland to such signs does not appear to have resulted in road carnage.
So let’s hope that this does represent a change in policy, and a more supportive approach will now be taken in relation to signage applications. I am sure none of us would want to think there might be one policy for them and one for everyone else.
Perhaps one of your intrepid reporters might be able to ask the question of the policy makers in County. We might then be better equipped to understand if they should be commended for this change in policy and their own efforts to keep down our rates bill through these entrepreneurial efforts, or we should be objecting to double standards?
Mill Farm, Tweedmouth
Mrs Betty Piercy: apology
I REFER to the report I submitted on behalf of the above. Included in this was a reference to a past member who recently died.
The lady in question was the late Mrs Betty PIERCY but your paper (November 1) showed the name Mrs Betty PUREY.
To rectify any upset caused by this error it would be greatly appreciated if an apology could be implemented.
EVELYN SWANSTON (MRS)
‘Nature’s loveliness’ under threat from wind turbines
“I CARE to live only to entice people to look at nature’s loveliness”. So said John Muir, founder of the conservation movement and of America’s National Parks such as Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.
Muir was born in 1838 in the old fishing port of Dunbar, East Lothian, where a country park is named after him. In 1849 his family emigrated to Wisconsin, USA, and there Muir’s interest in the natural world led to his lifelong passion and commitment to the preservation of nature for its own sake against threats of commerce and development.
He described his opponents as “these temple destroyers, devotees of raving commercialisation, [who] seem to have a perfect contempt for nature. Instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the Mountains, they lift them to the Almighty Dollar.”
This sentiment is a perfect description of those who, in the 21st century, have debased habitats and exploited the countryside by installing intrusive wind turbines regardless of valid local objections, and will continue to do so if allowed by local authorities and central government.
Muir, who died in 1914, exhorted us to “go to the wild places and listen to what they say. Hear the music of the wind in the pines. Feel the life around you and in you.” Such advice is becoming more difficult to achieve as more of our countryside is subject to the rampant commercialisation of wind power.
If you go today to the “wild places” on the high moor above North Charlton, Northumberland, the site of the 18 125m turbine Middlemoor wind farm, you will see the effects of this commercial exploitation.
Another example is the Lammermuir Hills in the Scottish Borders. From my home I can see 116 turbines rising above the Lammermuir horizon.
Northumberland is increasingly under attack from wind farm developers (mostly foreign owned) and agents representing farmers and land owners all supported by NGOs such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. Northumberland has more onshore wind energy capacity built or consented than any other county in England.
Unless people are prepared to fight back and declare, like the Energy Minister John Hayes, “enough is enough” we, the local people, will no longer be able “to look at nature’s loveliness” without seeing it defaced by industrial wind turbines.
Thank you very much for donations and support
I WOULD like to thank my family and all of my friends who attended my 80th birthday for all the lovely cards and presents which I received, and my cousin Brenda Collins who went round with a bucket on the night, from which she received £230, given to me to donate to a charity of my choice. I am sending this on for The Blind Service Men and Women, The Blind Veterans UK, formerly St Danstans. And thanks to Brian for the excellent entertainment.
MANY thanks to all who competed and helped at the recent Rod Rutherford Memorial 10k race held at Spittal. £100 was raised for Cancer Research UK.
Berwick Harriers AC
MEMBERS of the Berwick-upon-Tweed Ladies’ Lifeboat Guild wish to thank all who contributed in any way to the success of the coffee morning in the Guildhall on October 27. The sum raised for the RNLI was £515.80.
Hon. Secretary Berwick Ladies’
I WOULD like to express my thanks to everyone who took part at the Harvest/Halloween AfternoonTea/Dance at Hutton Village Hall on October 28. The amount raised was £320.00.
I would also like to thank local businesses and friends who very kindly gave donations., Maureen’s (Church St), Cobbled Yard Hotel and finally I would also like to thank Mrs M Jeffrey who sold quiz forms on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society. The money raised will go towards our services supporting people with dementia and their families.
CAN I thank all of my friends and family who contributed to the chosen charity at my recent birthday party celebration at Berwick Rugby Club.
An impressive total of £805.04 was raised, and this generous sum will be donated to the Special Care Baby Unit at Borders General Hospital.
Ord Mains, Berwick
ON Saturday, November 10 the Berwick Parish Church Choir hosted an Autumn Grand Jumble Sale in the Parish Centre. The jumble sale was extremely well supported and the amazing sum of £435 was raised that morning.
On behalf of the Berwick Parish Church Choir, thanks to everyone who attended, helped out and donated books, jumble, bric-a-brac, baking and their valuable time to make it such a success.
MRS MAUREEN BURTON &
MRS FIONA CALDER
Berwick Parish Church Choir
ON behalf of Elisabeth and myself, could I say a big thank you for the gifts, cards and warm words of kindness on our departure from Belford.
We have enjoyed eight wonderful years in the village and would not have left, but family commitments sometimes have to take priority. Thank you to many wonderful people we came to know in and around the village.