Minutes from Extra Parish Council meeting held on 21 June 2017

Singleton Parish Council
Minutes of a Special Meeting of the Parish Council
held at the Village Hall, Singleton
on 21 June 2017 at 6.30 pm

Present: – Cllrs Smith (Chair), Lee (Vice Chair), Bailey, Chew and Gallagher, and the Parish Clerk, Verena Henderson, who took the Minutes. Also Present – Sgt Nick Pritchard of Lancashire Constabulary (Kirkham) and 16 residents.
This meeting had been called because of an incident which took place on 15 June when three young people arrived in the village in the afternoon and set up camp. Several members of the public recounted the incident and described in detail what then followed.
The young people arrived at approximately 3 pm and set up their tent in a private garden behind the post office. This garden belongs to a house rented from Singleton Trust. When challenged by the householder, the young people became abusive. Another neighbour was then called in and their behaviour became more abusive and extremely threatening with large sticks being waved around. A 999 call was made but the advice given was that as no physical assault had taken place and the young people were on private land, a 101 call should be made instead. A 101 call was therefore made and a period of 15 minutes elapsed before the neighbour gave up and put the phone down. The neighbour then tried and succeeded somewhat to calm the situation and helped the three young people to get safely out of the back garden over a barbed wire fence.
This, however, was not the end of the situation and the young people then set up camp elsewhere in the village, on land owned by Singleton Trust, and became extremely abusive when challenged. According to some residents, the young people were either drunk or had taken drugs. One female resident was even chased down the road by the female young person who was shouting obscenities and wielding a stick. The resident then made a 999 call whilst running to be told to get home, lock the doors and wait for the Police to arrive. At the time of this meeting, she was still waiting.
After more phone calls to the Police, two PCSO’s arrived but they could do little except talk to the young people who by this time had become extremely agitated. After more abuse and more phone calls, two Police Officers arrived who talked to the young people. Again, no arrests were made as the young people were on private land belonging to Singleton Trust. The whole incident lasted for a period of over 4½ hours and the young people’s final act was to leave a large quantity of litter strewn over a wide area.
This incident, which had affected a large number of people in the village, had left the residents feeling extremely concerned and very angry about the lack of Police support. One resident recounted an incident which occurred at the Miller Arms one year ago when the Police were called because of an extremely drunk and rowdy customer who then went on to cause a serious accident resulting in him receiving a broken pelvis. There was no Police response at all on that occasion.
Sgt Nick Pritchard had very recently been appointed as Sergeant at Kirkham as Andy Hill had been moved over to cover the Fracking demonstrations. Cllr Chew went over all the residents’ concerns with him, in particular, the large number of elderly residents who live in fear of such incidents happening and not being able to get the Police to respond. The Parish Council understood the constraints that the Police were working under these days, but this was no comfort to those who are being threatened and needing their support. Numerous complaints had been received about 101 being a waste of time as often no response is received after 20 minutes or more.
Lack of communication and follow-up from the Police was a major concern and Sgt Pritchard undertook to look into individual’s complaints and respond to them accordingly.
Sgt Pritchard told the meeting that he was genuinely sorry and very disappointed that residents felt the Police had let them down. He explained that a large number of complaints had been logged about the incident and there was a response. Initially this was in the form of 2 PCSO’s who could not do a lot about the situation but they had called for help from the 2 Police Officers who arrived later. The difficulty was that the young people were on private land and it would normally be up to the landlord or local council to evict them. The Police could have arrested them if they had actually physically assaulted anyone. The case is on-going and as such he could not discuss it in detail, but assured the meeting that further investigations are continuing into these young people.
Sgt Pritchard went on to explain that in the last five years they had lost 1,000 Police Officers in Lancashire and also 450 police staff. These police staff included people who answered the calls and a lot of experience has been lost. These were very skilled individuals and recently new staff members had been recruited who have to learn these skills and gain experience. He agreed that the number 101 was not being dealt with effectively at the moment but he hoped this would improve once the new staff had gained the appropriate training and experience. In addition to these problems, since the terrorists’ incidents in Manchester and London, the Police in Lancashire had seen a 60% rise in calls over the last two weeks. Lancashire Constabulary usually had to deal with 600 101 calls in a day. This was currently running at 1100 in a day.
Several residents wanted to write to the Chief Inspector and after discussion, it was agreed that Cllr Chew would collate their concerns and write on their behalf. Sgt Pritchard then took details from individual complainants and was thanked for his attendance at this meeting.
Finally several complaints were made to the meeting about dog-walkers on the permissive footpaths on the Trust land. Although signs were up to say all dogs must be on leads, many ignored this, particularly professional dog walkers, and when challenged the people were often quite abusive. 90% of the dog walkers were fine, but these people were from outside the parish and just letting their dogs run off. As a result dog dirt was an increasing problem. Concerned residents were advised to contact Singleton Trust directly about this matter.
As there was no further business, the meeting closed at 7.30pm and everyone was thanked for their attendance.

Signed …………………………………………… Dated ………………………………………

Verena Henderson
Clerk to the Parish Council
Tel: 01995 670455