Saffron Walden Crime Update: R4U steps in to fill policing void left by Police Commissioner’s withdrawal to Braintree

Saffron Walden Town Council is exploring the direct funding of local policing to address the Police Commissioner’s withdrawal of policing from Uttlesford and the 13% annual increase in crime, Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) has announced.

Heather Asker (R4U) Heather Asker (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr Heather Asker, chair of the Saffron Walden Town Council Finance and Establishment Committee, said “At the recent very well attended meeting in the Town Hall residents made it pretty clear that they are fed up of spiralling crime in Uttlesford and they need something to be done. The Conservative Police Commissioner isn’t acting, so someone has to. Because he’s a bean counter by trade, he only seems to be focused on pushing through budget cuts from his national party. That is not a solution.”

Cllr Asker continued “Crime in Essex has risen 65% faster than the country’s average and is rapidly increasing. In fact it is nearly 13% higher than a year ago. Our police are also 20% worse at catching criminals than the national average. No wonder Essex residents are significantly less satisfied with their police than the national average. To be clear we strongly support the police themselves and they do an outstanding job with the resources they are given. But the Police Commissioner’s strategy of budget cuts and replacing local Bobbies on the beat with ‘techno-cops’ based in Braintree is not the solution. Criminals are back down the M11 before the police even cross the Uttlesford border. So we’ve decided to act. We need uniformed officers right here, right now. So R4U has sponsored a Town Council motion to look into the feasibility of the Town Council funding local PSCOs, and it was approved last week with good cross-party support.”

Paul Fairhurst (R4U) Paul Fairhurst (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr Paul Fairhurst added “There are a number of things we need to explore, such as ‘should the Town be paying to fill the gaps in policing?’; ‘what is the budget impact’; and ‘what controls could we put in place to stop the Police Commission allocating the Town’s PSCOs somewhere else?’ We also have support from UDC who stated at the Town Hall meeting that they would pay for 50% of PSCOs funded by town and parish councils. If we move forward, we’ll hold them to that promise.”

Cllr Fairhurst continued “Funding the Town’s own PSCOs is a complex issue, but as elected councillors it is important that we listen to what local people say and implement plans to meet their needs, even if it would seem that those needs should be filled by others. And the issues we’ve seen in Saffron Walden are faced elsewhere in the district; for example there have been recent bank raids in Dunmow. So we are happy to share our findings with other Uttlesford town and parish councils. And of course we’ll keep residents posted as we explore the proposal.”

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties.

R4U is the fastest growing local political movement in its district. In 2015 it became the second party at Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In 2017 it achieved a further by-election gain with 60% of the vote. In the May 2019 Local Elections R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats (-83%) by any Conservative controlled council in those elections.

R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U is also the majority party at Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.

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