Row continues over Selston private policing referendum plans

Selston and Ashfield Ward Councillor Cllr Gail Turner angry that local residents who do not pay for garden waste collection by direct debit are going to be charged more
Selston and Ashfield Ward Councillor Cllr Gail Turner angry that local residents who do not pay for garden waste collection by direct debit are going to be charged more

A Selston parish councillor has defended the role of the Selston Parish Independent Group in the row over controversial plans for a referendum on private policing for the district.

Councillor Gail Turner has accused other councillors of ‘misrepresenting the facts’ after a public meeting to discuss the issue had to be cancelled.

Coun Turner was responding to claims by Independent councillor Sam Wilson that recent calls for a referendum to put private security patrols on the streets of the village had put the “fear of God” into pensioners.

Selston parish councillor Sam Wilson said people in their 80s in the “sleepy village” were afraid to collect their pension in case they were mugged.

He said publicity surrounding the controversial referendum has raised tensions in the area.

Coun Wilson was speaking as a meeting to discuss a referendum on private policing at the Old Council Offices, on Alfreton Road, on Monday, December 12, was cancelled on public safety grounds.

Selston Parish Council voted in October to approve a referendum over plans to employ a private security firm after concers were raised that not enough police were deployed in the area.

But councillors later voted for the referendum to be put on hold saying there was not enough information about the plans.

This week coun Turner said: “At the Parish Council meeting in March 2016, residents present raised urgent concerns about the level of drug dealing and other antisocial behaviour in the parish, and the absence of police presence or service. They pleaded for help from the council.

“Selston Parish Independents began to search for options. We met with Bolsover District Council to discuss their Community Rangers scheme.

“We also met with our Police and Crime Commissioner, and with private security contractors. The outline results and detailed cost estimates from these investigations were issued at the June parish council meeting, a copy of which went to every councillor.

“Every Councillor knows the full facts, but some are now choosing to misrepresent the situation to suit their own agenda.

The PCC offered to provide two PCSO’s, one funded by him and one by us at an extra cost to the parish of £40,000 annually. The caveat there was that in Inspector Glen Longden’s own words, “I have only a limited number of officers, so they will always have to be deployed wherever and whenever I need them”.

“Given the time and expense of establishing a community warden service this was not considered. A rough estimate of £40-50,000 annually per officer is the cost of public security of this type. Many areas have community wardens of one sort or another, but Ashfield, notably, has little to offer us in this regard.

“If the parish decide extra security is needed, the cost will be significant, which is why we seek your views before committing to further work on this. If the public don’t want to pay any more for any extra security or policing, then it ends here. No ifs - no buts!

“All councillors have been kept up to date on this process. Perhaps Councillors Dawn Justice and Sam Wilson, at the forefront of outbursts in the media, will answer those residents who asked, “What are you going to do?” They have not made any proposals, submitted any ideas or offered support to those residents most affected by crime.

“We have tried to come up with ideas to help. We have no other agenda and no private interests, and are simply seeking your views on one option to solve crime locally.”