Sunday Comment: “The cops ain’t gonna come…do your worst.”

Crime: “The cops ain’t gonna come…do your worst.”

YT was undertaking some filmed vox pop work this week. One of our interviewees was asked what they didn’t like about Thurrock. She replied that she had seen changes since arriving from Lithuania five years ago and one of them was crime. Recently, she had confronted a group re their criminal behaviour. One youth replied: “Listen, there are a thousand less cops on the streets of Essex. Do your best, they ain’t gonna come.”

Now we are know that they are not exactly accurate. There is a concern that 400 police and 600 civilians could be cut but that is not the point.

The point is that the present cuts battle has created a rich climate for criminality in Thurrock. Confidence is high. Not only among recidivists but also among those who have never committed a crime before. The recession exacerbates the problem.

YT was filming at the St Luke’s Hospice shop in Grays earlier this week and once again saw four men standing in the middle of the precinct dealing drugs with “impunity”.

This is not a blame game or piece. It is no use talking to most councillors because apart from a noble few, they don’t understand the criminal justice system. Most think you can solve terrorism, insider dealing, serial killing and car crime by having more PCSO’s giving it passing attention on a bicycle..

What is important is that in the next year, for this is the vital year, when cuts will hit home, that our most vulnerable as well as every person that pays for a police service, gets what they deserve.

Thurrock Council: Who will be in charge come Wednesday?

The annual meeting of Thurrock Council takes place on Wednesday as does the Mayor-making. The Mayor-making comes first and that may well shape who takes over the council, Labour or Conservative.

The decision may rest with outgoing mayor Anne Cheale. Anne has brought a greatly needed dignity and sense of history to the role. She will retire as a politician and as a mayor with her head held high. Who she will vote for as mayor is a closely guarded secret.

YT understands that the Tories will be putting Tunde Ojetola forward. The Labour favourite appears to be Yash Gupta although we hear there may be a surprise.

If the Tories take over then we may well see Phil Anderson’s brand of compassionate conservatism allied to a pull no punches approach to opposition, members and officers, which will be fascinating. We expect to see some enlightened despotism.

Some say that a year in opposition will give Phil time for the reorganisation that is needed. Indeed recent events have illustrated that communications may not be what they should be. However, the Tories may not have that luxury and with the seats up in 2012, the economy and a fallow year in 2013, 2014 may seem like a long time to be in opposition.

For Labour, they appear to have a plan A,B and C. If they are in opposition, with 24/49 councillors,it could create deadlock. Committees could be interesting as well. If they are in power, then they have the challenge of dealing with the coalition cuts that will really bite deep this year.

New Heads at William Eds and Gable Hall

We interviewed Mr Steven Munday and Dr Sophina Asong this week as they settled into their new roles. Mr Munday is quite a contrast from Mr King or indeed Mr Henderson. He has a quiet assurance that serves him well and suits the school. Dr Asong was also a delight to meet and very inspirational. In a matter of weeks the good doctor has created quite a bond at Gable Hall.

All in all, they are more than just bricks in the wall!

Culture in Thurrock

It was good to see that the Thurrock International Festival of Culture has received key funding from the Lottery. This should be a great summer of culture in the borough. Coupled with T-Fest, the Thurrock Drama Festival plus the plethora of activities emanating from the senior school, we should be proud of what the borough produces.

As importantly, the turf was turned at the National Skills Academy in Purfleet. There is more than blue-sky thinking going on in Thurrock, there are things happening, buildings being built, performances being performed and individuals achieving to indicate the borough has a golden future.

However, we return to the first article and it is vital that there is the physical presence of police on the street to create an atmosphere of reassurance. Not PCSO’s, not some Big Society hair-brained scheme. What held true in 1829, holds true today.

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