I attended the community meeting about the recent crime wave on 4 April on behalf of the Ceredigion Conservative Association. The meeting was at 10:30am on a Monday, a time that is obviously difficult for working people to get to and, unfortunately, it went downhill from there.
Almost a quarter of the allotted time was spent on introductions, a fact that did not go unnoticed by a distinctly unhappy audience. Most of the talking was done by the Plaid Cymru Police and Crime Commissioner, who was visibly defensive, which only escalated the tension in the room. Liberal Democrat MS Jane Dodds chaired the meeting — conveniently in my view since it allowed her to deflect attention from her role in the matters at hand.
Frankly, I think local residents saw straight through the stink. Despite Ms. Dodds’ attempt to downplay party politics, it was plain to see that Plaid and the Lib Dems have little to offer our town. This is exactly the sort of thing I am hearing on the doorstep with Ewan Lawry, my fellow council candidate in Aberystwyth.
People in our town are suffering and increasingly at the end of their tether- how much longer must we settle for the notion that all of our problems can be blamed on the tourists who keep our local economy afloat?How long must we swallow the idea that students or ‘the English’ are responsible for local issues that Plaid Cymru has long failed to solve?
This meeting is just the tip of the iceberg. Neither party has offered any fresh ideas for year. After hearing the many terrible —and terrifying — stories, of pub landlords threatened with knives, of drug-taking near play areas, of elderly ladies having their front doors kicked in, I left feeling more aggrieved than when I had arrived.
How dare this be allowed to happen in our town?Scroll through Facebook comments on any articles or posts relating to this and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Do we have to accept that we have been abandoned by those charged with enforcing the law?
Are they really showing an interest or is it because there are local elections next month?
Of course, no one blames individual police officers.They are some of the hardest-working, under-appreciated figures in our community. We want answers from those very well-paid people at the top.Instead of our chief constable engaging in silly fantasies about a Wales-wide police force — because what we really need is an even more distant, bureaucratic body with little contact with local people— there is a simple solution.
Robert Peel established the police to proactively prevent crime by patrolling on foot. If it worked in Victorian times it can, with all the advances in radios, transport, surveillance, and a very supportive population, work now.
These are issues in the centre of Aberystwyth. Not out in the countryside, which has its own set of problems.
A small urban area could quite easily be patrolled by officers who know the area and are known in the area. And if that means around the clock until the immediate crisis has passed, then so be it. The alternative is the scary prospect of people becoming used to not having a reliable, local police force to call on. I don’t believe we can reduce the causes of crime to being young, bored, or poor. Instead of lazy stereotypes about criminals, how about getting back to basics?
A visible and reliable police presence supported by a justice system that deters and rehabilitates.T
he people of Aberystwyth are tired of seeing cash splashed on new BMWs for officers to hide away in them all day or, as one resident pointed out, drive past instances of obvious crime.
I appreciate that a lot of work goes on behind the scenes, but local people need to see the effects.
What might be a ‘petty’ crime to some means that others live in fear in their own homes.
This has all been a problem for, at least, the last three years and I fear it will continue for another three if we do not take every opportunity to achieve a local policing approach that can work with Conservative councillors who can be relied upon to be tough on crime. It’s time for Ceredigion to make headlines again for the right reasons — Michelin-starred restaurants and stunning coastlines— not the crimes blighting our community.
Ceredigion Conservative Association
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