Lib Dems oppose Police taking over Fire Service

The Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner has this week released his plan for taking over the Fire Service, justifying the idea with massive ‘efficiency savings’ including ‘one-off capital receipts’ of up to £15m.

Paul Zukowskyj, lead Lib Dem member on the Community Safety panel at County Hall condemned the move saying, “David Lloyd has virtually completed his asset-stripping of the police, including overseeing the loss of more than three hundred police posts across the county since 2012 and closing numerous police station front desks, now he wants to do the same asset stripping to our fire service.

“We need the services, as we’ve seen recently with the terror attacks and now the fire in Grenfell Tower. Asset stripping them will mean they might not be there when we need them the most. This hostile take-over has to be stopped and the Lib Dems at County Hall will resist it every step of the way.” 

Paul continued, “Will closure of Fire Stations follow the closure of our Police Stations?  The Yearly revenue savings of up to £4m, which are most likely to comprise staff losses, are likely to mean less fire fighters at a time when the need for both services has never been clearer. The one-off capital receipts are likely sales to developers of fire or police stations, which the PCC says are no longer required.” 

From offering a free home to voluntary organisations, offering and fitting free smoke alarms, keeping a look-out for vulnerable people in our communities and promoting the ‘Life’ programme for young people, Fire Fighters have worked hard over recent years to become trusted friends in the community, work that would be destroyed if they are seen under the PCC as part of the Police Service.” 

“We need the services of a dedicated Fire Service, as we have seen recently with the terror attacks and now the fire in Grenfell Tower. Asset stripping them will mean they might not be there when we need them the most.  And what will happen to the inter-Service coordinated cooperation by which different Fire Services develop different specialisms to ensure we can deal with anything.”

“There may be some synergy at the top levels of governance as recognised by HCC in the creation of the County Community Safety Unit (CCSU), but that was within the overall democratic accountability of the Cabinet System, with the Portfolio Holder having to be called to account at Council Meetings.  How different with the present PCC, who is monitored by the toothless PCP which never reports to HCC.  We will lose that democratic accountability if we allow this to happen.”

“This hostile take-over has to be stopped and the Lib Dems at County Hall will resist it every step of the way.”

Keep your homes safe on bonfire night

Message from Neighbourhood Watch:

We are reminding residents to keep their homes secure and report suspicious behaviour over the Firework weekend.

Last year 18 burglaries occurred in St Albans between November 5 and November 8, when many people were out attending firework displays. Therefore, we are urging residents to leave lights on when  going out to a firework display or if they leave their home empty any time after it gets dark.

Residents can make their homes more secure by following some basic crime prevention advice such as:

  • Make a habit of checking that ground floor windows and doors are closed and locked when you leave the house or go to bed. Upstairs windows should be locked when the house is unoccupied.
  • PVCu doors must be locked by lifting the handle and turning the key to ensure all the security features are in place.
  • Car and house keys should be kept out of sight in a safe place. Don’t leave them on display on window sills, in porches, hallways or kitchens.
  • Secure your rear garden by shutting and locking any gates. Burglars can use garden tools to break in, so make sure you securely lock away any tools after use.
  • Use timer switches on a lamp, radio or tv set so that they turn on as it gets dark in the evenings.

‘No’ to police and fire merger

Chris White has followed up on comments made last week on BBC Radio with a firm pledge to oppose any attempts to merge the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service with the Police Service.

Chris said: ‘It is high time we had evidence-based politics in this country – not centrally imposed dogma. The Fire Service is fine where it is – part of the County Council where it prevents and fights fires and undertakes rescues with consummate skill. Anyone who saw the magnificent performance at Buncefield a few years ago knows this.

‘So if it ain’t broke don’t fix it – just because some Conservative special advisor in Whitehall has noticed that fire engines and police cars both have blue lights.’

Chris added: ‘We need integration between services so that they work together. The creation of the Police and Crime Commissioner post has made working with other public services like councils and the NHS more difficult. Let’s not make it any more difficult by removing the Fire Service from the control of local electors.’

Help tackle crime

Residents are being asked for their views on how to make the St Albans District an even safer place to live and work

A public consultation has started into looking at ways of reducing crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour.

People are also being invited to say what the District’s crime-fighting priorities should be.

The survey is being undertaken by the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) whose members include St Albans City and District Council and Hertfordshire Police.

Residents can give their opinions by filling in a short online form or paper questionnaire by Friday 1 April.

Feedback from the consultation will be used by the CSP to develop a plan for the year ahead to tackle crime across the District. (more…)

Lib Dems to select Chris White as prospective Police Commissioner Candidate

On Saturday Liberal Democrats from across the County are gathering to approve and formally select their candidate for the forthcoming PCC elections.

The prospective candidate, Chris White, is well known across the County, as Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on St Albans Council and as a Hertfordshire county councillor.

He has built a reputation as a formidable campaigner. Chris has much experience of working on policing issues in his local community and as former chair of the Hertfordshire Police Authority Audit Committee.

Chris qualified as a chartered accountant in 1984 and has worked in accountancy, accountancy training and public affairs. He was a member of the Board of the Audit Commission from 2005 to 2011 and is currently Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on the Local Government Association.

You can find out about Chris’s work as a councillor at his website. (more…)

Cynical electioneering condemnation of Tory Police Commissioner

Liberal Democrats have dismissed the current Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s proposals to reduce his council tax precept as ‘cynical electioneering’.

Speaking for the Liberal Democrat Group Chris White said: ‘What a surprise. With elections for the Police and Crime Commissioner position only weeks away, we suddenly find he has put round a letter saying how marvellous he is and a suggested financial sweetener.

‘This sort of activity can only make the public even more cynical about politicians.

‘What we need to hear about is a budget to secure adequate policing in Hertfordshire. I doubt very much that cutting the already squeezed funding is likely to help the public feel safer.’

Bars and clubs asked to contribute towards taxi marshall scheme

More City centre bars and clubs are being asked to give financial backing to the Taxi Marshall scheme that has been making St Albans safer.

St Albans City and District Council has been helping to run the project designed to ensure people return home safely after a night out.

The Marshalls patrol taxi queues in St Peter’s Street and Batchwood Hall to stop them becoming flashpoints for alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour.

Many local businesses may benefit from the measure which is intended to keep St Albans as a safe and pleasant place for an evening out. (more…)

Crime priorities consultation

Note from the the District Council: Tell us how we should target crime and disorder

The St Albans City and District Community Safety Partnership wants to know your views on what our priorities should be for the coming year

The Partnership includes St Albans City and District Council, Hertfordshire Constabulary, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. The goal of the Partnership is to prevent and tackle crime and disorder.

The Partnership has carried out a community safety assessment and has identified six priority areas to focus on in the year ahead. It is now seeking residents’ views on these priorities and different ways of delivering them by asking residents to complete a short questionnaire at: http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/consultations

(more…)

Police warn of de-icing risks

Police are again warning of deicing risks this year – where motorists leave unattended vehicles with their engines running in an effort to defrost them.

Chris comments: ‘I have seen this myself. Thieves are aware of this practice and will steal your vehicle on cold mornings if you leave it unattended with the keys in the lock.’

For more see here.