When Transparency becomes Opaque

My 2½ hour meeting with Cllr and Assistant Police & Crime Commissioner Ray Bisby was like breathing fresh air – Ray who is a Conservative Councillor for the Cardea area answered ALL my questions without “hesitation, repetition or deviation”.
A recent event happened to me, where I was asking Senior Policing ‘why’ Policing wasn’t being addressed for minor problems here in Whittlesey.
My remit for this was as Chairman of Whittlesey Neighbourhood Watch – some of the members were asking me questions!

So I made my own Councillors aware, (As my first point of contact) they told me that they were aware of these ‘issues’ and had contacted the Police about it.
At the last Council meeting these issues were briefly discussed and ‘allegedly’ the term NO resources available was used – this is term I used when discussing at later meetings with Senior Officers at Police HQ (Previous posting).

I subsequently received an e-mail from the NPT (Neighbourhood Police Team) Sergeant Lugg with a copy of an e-mail he sent to the Council, explaining the resources and priorities of his policing team – at NO stage did he mention ‘NO Resources’.
I enclose at the bottom Sergeant Lugg’s e-mail.

I then asked a Whittlesey Councillor if they had seen this e-mail – to which they said they hadn’t – so who did receive the e-mail then – some must have in order to make alleged quotes.
If indeed my own Councillors had received this e-mail, I as a constituent or as my role in NHW who had contacted them previously – did they not keep me informed of the ‘factual’ e-mail they may have received – This surely is being a ‘Good Councillor’ – quiet often at WTC meetings I hear from one particular Councillor the wording – Transparent – the incident above is just one example – The phrase ‘Knowledge is Power’ and is not unique to some of our Councillors – it happens everywhere, it is very annoying when the same group – who would like to promote high ethics within Council business are not practicing what the preach!

This is how and when Transparency starts and is indeed somewhat Opaque.

Below e-mail is unedited and is it’s origin format.

Afternoon Roy
I am currently abstracted this week so have little time to look into my emails in detail. However I understand that an email I sent to the council last month was discussed at the meeting. I have copied it below for your info and for you to make your own mind up as to whether my email has been distorted at the meeting you attended.  

Personally I do not believe I said we had NO resources. I have acknowledged responsibility for parking enforcement but I have tried to manage expectations in that we do not dedicate officers purely to parking issues.
In that light Shane will endeavour to look into this repeat vehicle and take some form of action as soon as he can.
I return to my NPT duties next week so will be available to answer any other concerns you have. Kind regards

Thank you for your email.
I will forward your email to the local PCSOs so that they can include the street in their patrols and issue tickets for those parked on the lines that have been implemented.  

In order to meet your expectations however:
In this part of Cambridgeshire the council has not decriminalised parking offences. As such they are unable to provide parking wardens that you may have seen in most other parts of the country. As a result parking currently falls to the police to enforce. Unfortunately we live in a world where we do not have infinite resources. We no longer have dedicated parking enforcement officers. As such we have to prioritise our workload and deal with those matters that cause the greatest amount of harm first and above everything else that falls to us to deal with.
This prioritisation is undertaken consistently as new incidents are reported to the police.
Incidents where there is a threat of harm, harm already taken place or involving an element of risk of harm will clearly take precedence over issues involving parking. By way of example a person who is missing and at risk of harming themselves would need to be found before we issued parking tickets. A child at risk of sexual exploitation would need to be safeguarded before we issued parking tickets. A situation where a vulnerable elderly resident is being subjected to high levels of anti-social behaviour would need to be resolved before we issued parking tickets.

On some days the PCSOs may have ample time to enforce parking. On others they may not be able to due to the risk of harm evident in calls for service and ongoing cases that we as a team have to deal with.
Once all risk is reduced on any given day we can then turn our attention to matters that do not involve immediate safeguarding such as parking.
Having said all of that we are currently going through a period of change. Your Mayor has been invited to a meeting next week for those changes to be explained. Although we anticipate more time to be available for parking issues we will still have to adopt a risk based approach when prioritising our workload. We will not be returning to dedicated parking enforcement officers.

As a council you could chose to send the clear message of which you speak to educate drivers around the existence of the new lines and that failure to abide by them will result in a penalty notice from the police.
e will enforce them along with all of the other parking enforcement across Whittlesey, March and Chatteris when we can.  

I hope this helps you to understand the current situation around parking enforcement and policing priorities.
Kind regards

Sgt Richard Lugg
South Fenland Problem Solving Team.

e&oe ©Roy Gerstner
If you believe any of my articles are factually incorrect I am more than happy make corrections.

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