Can I begin by expressing my surprise at the somewhat hysterical ‘tone’ of Andrew Feather’s letter ‘Your Say’ 20/3/12.
Myself and our local Labour candidate Adam Wilkinson recently attended a packed Ward Forum in Sowerby Bridge which I chaired, as has been the usual practice since my election as a ward councillor. We also had a journalist from the Courier present which resulted in the excellent and accurate coverage in the local press.
Andrew Feather is wrong to say that my and Adam’s raising of the issue in our letter and by extension the Courier’s reporting of these issues is wrong. Andrew’s approach is to say the least misguided. The two big issues up for discussion at the Ward Forum were the proposed library development and crime in Sowerby Bridge.The issues of burglaries and disorder associated with the towns growing ‘night time economy’ was put forcefully by a number of licensees in the meeting.These businesses bring vibrancy to Sowerby Bridge but there are associated problems and they were rightly raising them.
The police sergeant who was there to report on policing dealt very well with the situation by being forthright and prepared to listen. I made the comment at the end which was reported inthe Courier piece that amongst other measures wecould possibly look to the ‘business against crime group’ in Halifax as a model for our town. All concerned felt that the discussion had been constructive.
I became aware that local licensees wanted to raise these issues a few days earlier when I was contacted by Craig Whitaker’s office. The Conservative M Ps office in Calder Valley had been approached and had been unable to contact any Sowerby Bridge Conservative Councillors and so had resorted to making contact with myself as the local Labour Councillor.
I immediately took the issue up. Though as Adam and I said in our letter we have been campaigning on the issue in the area for some time. Our letter added nothing that was not in the public domain. Former Councillor Feather suggests that this could all have been settled quietly without all this open democratic discussion. However the police Sergeant was asked on the night: ‘can these posts be covered?’ and the answer was a definitive “no” as budgets do not allow. If there had been any Conservative Councillors at the Ward Forum they would have been able to put Andrew ‘right’ on this issue.
While I believe I am only doing my job as a local Councillor (since the Ward Forum I have also attended a meeting of ‘Pub Watch’ in Sowerby Bridge) Andrew Feather accuses me of stirring up a ‘fear of crime’. It is a disgrace to suggest that responding to my constituents genuine concerns may attract crime to the town. The opposite applies.
Cllr Dave Draycott
Labour and Co-operative Party