Haverhill Police were left frustrated as the public elected for them to focus on parking problems rather than crime and anti social behaviour in the town yet again.
Around 40 people were at Monday’s (September 9) public Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) meeting to set three priorities for the town force, but parking on pavements and speeding down the High Street proved chief among the concerns town residents, trumping worries about drinking in the town’s alcohol free zone and people sleeping rough on the Manor Road allotments.
“I feel frustrated that we have not had the priorities that the SNT, the police and our partners can tackle, and though I’m frustrated it’s a public vote and you have voted,” said Inspector Peter Ferrie.
“We’ve lost a really important priority tonight but that’s what the public have chosen.”
After the meeting, at Days Inn Haverhill, was introduced by chairman Tim Marks, those present split into three groups to discuss their concerns and present them.
Anti social behaviour and drinking in the alcohol-free zone (15 votes) was raised as a concern along with people sleeping rough on the allotments (ten votes).
However, those were trumped by ‘boy racers’ speeding down the High Street late at night (23 votes), people parking on pavements throughout the town (20 votes), and – after being refined into one priority – dealing with anti social behaviour in Clayhive Drive, Clements Drive and Bedford Court, robberies in the latter and people drinking as they go through the Clements estate (21 votes).
Parking concerns, particularly on the High Street, have dominated SNT priorities despite the police opposing them in favour of focussing on crime and anti social behaviour, though Suffolk County Council is often reluctant to install a long-term solution, instead leaving the police to keep issuing tickets.
The previous three priorities were all dropped, with anti social behaviour down in Osir Place, parking not an issue on School Lane in the summer holiday and police struggling to reach the officer at the county council to tackle the problems of parking in Murton Slade/Swan Lane.
People turned their anger to the police for not focussing on the other problems in addition to the three priorities, with one man saying: “You don’t have to ask our permission, why don’t you just get on with it?”
Another said: “You’re not carrying out what you ought to be doing.”
Chris Cullum suggested a police officer be designated as a traffic warden for six months, and if Insp Ferrie couldn’t spare one he should request one from his superiors.
Insp Ferrie said they would target street drinkers and allotment sleepers, and said: “My officers have so many things to deal with and we like to focus on what members of the public like us to focus on and be driven by them.”
The next SNT meeting is December 9 at the arts centre.
For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, September 12) Echo.