Community Meeting with MP, London Assembly Member & Council Leader
On Friday 17th May, Residents’ Association (UCRA) councillors, Linda Hawthorn, Chris Wilkins and John Tyler were in the audience for a community meeting in St. Laurence church hall, called by the MP for Hornchurch & Upminster, Julia Lopez. Also speaking were Keith Prince, London Assembly Member for Havering & Redbridge, Havering Council Leader, Damian White and another Conservative councillor.
The event had been publicised at short notice as a chance to meet a senior police officer and discuss local crime and police issues but the audience were told that the police had pulled out as they did not want to risk accusations of political bias prior to the European Elections (called purdah restrictions). Despite this, there were many policing topics discussed at a lively meeting attended by around 30 members of the public.
Cllr White re-iterated that Hornchurch Police Station would remain in use and audience members were vociferous in their demands that it should be open to the public for more than the three hours a week it is at present.
Cllr White also highlighted the recently publicised Havering Council decision to pay for five extra police officers, stating that they would be used to investigate the sort of crimes that the police considered low priority, such as car crime and criminal damage. They would also be used on raids on Homes of Multiple Occupation (HMO’S) where offences were suspected.
Cllr Tyler welcomed the addition of extra officers (but not that we had to pay extra for them), but pointed out to Cllr White that he was giving the impression that these officers would be able to achieve miracles, whereas in reality they would barely be able to scratch the surface in terms of investigating this sort of crime. Cllr Tyler also highlighted that there had been no consultation with councillors as to the priorities for these officers and that he would welcome the opportunity for UCRA councillors to make suggestions. Other audience members gave their opinions as to the sort of roles and priorities these officers should have and also objected to the £300, 000 per year cost, particularly as the policing part of the council tax had already been raised so much this year by the London Mayor.
Both Julia Lopez and Keith Prince argued that a lot of the problems of rising crime across London and the country as a whole were due to previous large scale funding cutbacks, both by central government and the London Mayor and that they hoped these would be reversed. This was largely agreed by the audience.
Other local policing issues were also brought up by audience members and discussed and the meeting ended after around 90 minutes.