A huge crowd of concerned residents turned out to last nights Police Fire Crime Commissioner’s (PFCC) meeting but he wasn’t the only one that residents had in their sights.
The PFCC lay out his preamble with the District Commander attempting to give residents some comfort about the current youth crime, plaguing Rayleigh. Speaking to residents after the meeting, they appeared to remain sceptical. I think one resident was spot on with his appraisal of the situation, that despite the police trying their best to do their job, the courts are simply failing us. Lenient punishments means those caught are let of with a slap on the wrist and go on to reoffend. We all the know the state of the criminal justice system and now we are experiencing first hand how it is failing us on our doorstep.
The PFCC had received a letter from MP, Mark Francois, which he duly shared with members of the audience, which was met with jeers and questions as to why their elected MP couldn’t be at the meeting. The residents seemed less than impressed by MF’s current and past performances for his constituents.
To say Rayleigh Town Council didn’t fare well is probably an understatement at best. Residents are (rightly) fuming that CCTV had been removed from the High St with one resident pointing out that more is spent on flowers than public safety. Yes, sometimes the lines are sometimes blurred as to who is spending what money, but whichever way you try to look at it, it’s still coming out of the public purse, however the Community Safety Officer from Rochford District Council was quick to relinquish all responsibility of the CCTV in Rayleigh.
I had asked some members of Rayleigh Town Council to put forward a representation at the PFCC meeting but for many, it fell on deaf ears – quite honestly I sat through the meeting with a huge amount of awkwardness listening to a couple of the Councillors trying to dig their way out of a hole that was just getting bigger. I am still perplexed by the mention of RIPA being a reason why CCTV was removed from the High Street. This is misleading for the public as this reason was and has never been cited as reasoning for the removal. If anything, there were concerns around GDPR and the way in which this data was stored and secured, both at rest and in transit.
Some residents voiced how they had been targeted in the High Street because their daughter has learning difficulties. It was heartbreaking to hear and knowing that in a way you have been complicit in allowing the problem to spiral out of control and guilty by association isn’t a nice feeling at all!
The number of District & Town Councillors present at this meeting could be counted on one hand, which I found most concerning, given the amount of press that crime in Rayleigh has recently received. The public must wonder, is anyone listening?
I am pleased to say that all three Downhall & Rawreth Councillors attended the meeting, myself, Cllr Chris Stanley & Cllr Craig Cannell and also in attendance was Liberal Democrat Town Councillor Bruce Smart.
What does the future hold for Rayleigh Town Council and it’s new Community Safety Panel is as yet unknown as it hasn’t met once. A meeting has been scheduled for 5th June 2019 when I will be able to update residents on any progress made.