Haverhill Town Council met at the town’s arts centre last night (Tuesday, December 10) for their final meeting of 2013.
With just seven councillors there was less than half the council present.
Haverhill Police Inspector Ferrie updated those there on the town’s crime figures, with most (from April 2013 to present) falling compared to a three year average.
Total crime has fallen from to 1,124 (compared to a three year average of 1,344), violence against down to 233 (251) and sex offences to 21 (24).
On the rise are druge crimes at 69 (45) – though Insp Ferrie said this is due to more proactive policing, warrants being executed and people being stop searched – and burglaries at 52 (38).
Insp Ferrie detailed the three Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) priorities elected at Monday’s (December 9) quarterly public SNT meeting at parking on the High Street, speeding at various locations in the town and cycling without lights and high visibility equipment.
A presentation was given by Annie Topping, chief executive officer of Healthwatch Suffolk, detailing how the organisation, which looks into the county’s healthcare and makes recommendation, is faring since its launch in April.
She urged more people to get involved with the organisation and heard councillors’ complaints about Haverhill’s healthcare.
“A big, big problem that we have in Haverhill is sometimes if you want to see your own GP you have to wait six weeks – you can see any other but not yours, which is absolutely disgusting and somethiong needs to be done about it,” said former mayor Pat Hanlon.
Suffolk County Cllr Julian Flood said in the public forum: “I have the impression Haverhill is badly serviced compared to other large towns in Suffolk.
“Thetford in Norfolk seems to get a better deal somehow and it seems Haverhill is not being looked after as well as others.”
Fellow United Kingdon Independence Party (UKIP) Cllr Tony Brown added: “There seems to be a myraid of organisations to look after Suffolk and I’ve been to numerous meetings where they all say things but nothing changes and it’s about time we saw some results.”
Later in the public forum Cllr Brown asked town Cllr Betty McLatchy to clarify the Tories’ position with regard to the council tax rise as they had voted to cosnider the precept rise before Matthew Hancock MP spoke out against it.
“Perhaps the junior minister’s resources would be better spent fighting for Haverhill to get a better deal in the Palace of Westminster rather than attacking town council policy,” he said.
Cllr McLatchy said the Conservatives wanted to avoid a rise but would vote for it if unavoidable.
At the following finance committee meeting town clerk Will Austin said that the trigger set by local government minister Eric Pickles MP for a referredum to be held on whether a rise is too high or not – which would cost £19,000 for the town to hold – did not apply to town and parish level.
Although the trigger is a two per cent rise, and the town proposes a four per cent hike, it states that this should equate to an increase of more than £5 a year for a Band D home – the town hike would equal £4.27 a year.
Finally plans to vote on whether or not to allow council meetings to be videod and streamed were delayed due to the lack of councillors present, to be decided at the next meeting on January 28.
Aaron Luccarini, who seeks to film the meetings and has already done so for the SNT meetings, said: “Not everyone is able to get to the meetings and we have already seen the success of doing this with the SNT meeting with 28 people viewing it and 14 voting increasing the vote by 71 per cent.”
For reports and all the latest news see tomorrow’s (Thursday, December 12) Echo.