Hucknall residents slam police and Ashfield Independent councillors at fiery public meeting

Police and Hucknall Ashfield Independent councillors were given a torrid time at a firebrand public meeting over crime issues in the town.

Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 1:05 pm

The meeting, at the George Street Club, was arranged by the Independents as a means for enabling the public to air their concerns with the police.

But things soon became heated with irate residents taking the opportunity to hammer Ashfield divisional commander Jon Hewitt, crime protection officer Pete Calladine and Ashfield Independent councillors over the rising amount of crime in the area around the club – particularly drugs-related incidents – and also across the town in general.

One comment on social media described the event as ‘going mental’.

Coun John Wilmott chaired the meeting and admitted it was 'painful in parts'

Another said: “That was pride and passion for the community unfiltered and the police inspector copped it with both barrels!”

And a third post said: “Hucknall people are amazing, loud and unstoppable.”

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Criticism was also aimed at the Independents by councillors from other parties, who said they had not been told about the meeting.

Coun Lauren Mitchell (Lab), who represents Hucknall South at Ashfield District Council, said: “I couldn’t go as I had another meeting in my diary and had no knowledge of this meeting until a few hours before.

"From what I’ve heard, their (the Independents) PR stunt backfired and nothing was achieved.

"If they genuinely cared about Hucknall, they would have made it an inclusive meeting and ensured residents’ views were a priority, not the political ambitions of the Ashfield Independents.”

Further criticism was meted out by Coun Kevin Rostance (Con), who represents Hucknall West, who said: “I attended the meeting at George Street although not invited.

"The meeting appeared to have been staged has a campaign meeting for the Ashfield Independents and to roll out their new candidates.

"The police and PCSO were clearly not briefed for this meeting and put in a very uncomfortable position

"The residents were treated with total contempt from the outset and vented their anger accordingly.

"We all want the residents of Hucknall to be safe and should be working together to achieve this.

"Our residents deserve better than people that have a blame culture and put political point scoring before the people they should be representing.

"The Ashfield Independent councillors that attended were a disgrace.

"Let’s all work together, residents councillors, police and Ashfield District Council to make Hucknall a safe place and a nice place for young and old.”

However, the Independents say they have since spoken further with the police and a robust plan of action will now be put into place with far more engagement with residents and a greater and more regular police presence around the area.

Coun John Wilmott (Ash Ind), who chaired the meeting, said: “There’s no doubt that passions were high at the George Street Club.

"Residents spoke out about rampant and visible drug dealing and spoke about a poor response from the police.

"There was a lot of shouting and swearing and it was difficult to control the meeting.

"That said, I understand residents’ frustration but this problem goes back decades under successive Conservative and Labour governments.

“We organised the meeting as a result of requests from residents and an increase in reports to us of crime and anti-social behaviour.

"We will continue to tackle these issues head on.

"It’s clear that crime and fear of crime hasn’t been helped by the closure of our police station in Hucknall or the broken promises over police officers.

“We have spoken to the Insp Jon Hewitt and he accepts that more should be done to help residents who live around the George Street Club.

“As a result of the meeting, he now has robust plan to deal with crime on the estate.

“Officers have been knocking on doors to encourage residents to have more confidence reporting crime.

"They have also agreed to increase patrols on the estate immediately and look to hold more one-to-more meetings with residents so that they can report crime anonymously and have confidence that their complaints will be dealt with seriously.

"None of this would have happened without the meeting so whilst it was painful in parts, it’s already delivering results that will make Hucknall safer.”