Police in the limelight

Police in the limelight

PLEASE RECORD the number-plates of any vehicles you think are involved in something criminal, recommends  Singleton Parish Councillor Chris Bailey. Then police can at least warn possible offenders, even if they can’t prosecute them.

He made the remark at the council’s last meeting, on 18th August 2011, following two incidents reported to the council which were good examples of lessons we could all learn.

In one incident, half-a-dozen youths were seen loitering suspiciously outside the church by two vans.  In the other, a former parish councillor had flashed a car to stop on Mains Lane after two cans were thrown out of the window.

In the first incident, the vans’ number-plates weren’t recorded – hence lesson number one. And the fact that the incident wasn’t reported by the witness directly was a problem in taking any further action, said police. So that’s lesson number two.

Lesson number three concerned the litter louts. It was former Singleton Parish Council leader Mrs Mary Whyham who flashed the car, which did actually stop, she told the council. (She was one of three members of the public attending.) She told the two young lads who got out of the car that litter not only spoiled the countryside but was an offence subject to a fine, and then she told them – *nicely,” she said – to take their litter home, which they did. “But thinking about it now,” she added, “it could have been a dangerous situation. I don’t know that I’d do it again.”

It was then that Cllr Bailey made his recommendation. Recording details wouldn’t lead to a potentially dangerous confrontation, he said, and police would be obliged to act by visiting the vehicle owners.

Poor out-of-hours service

Actually the first incident was an example of how poorly police have been handling calls recently, said Cllr Bailey. When the witness contacted him, he tried to report the incident – but it was a Sunday and Kirkham police station was closed, as it now is out-of-hours. Lancaster police said they couldn’t help because Cllr Bailey couldn’t tell them the postcode of the church; the witness should have reported it directly; and they couldn’t handle it until the relevant girl returned to work, on the Thursday…

It highlighted a situation the police were now trying to correct, said Cllr Bailey. At the moment there are too many telephone numbers the public are expected to call, but many are not manned effectively and many are not manned at all. Action is due to be taken by the end of September, say police.

Cllr Barnden thought there should be one number Singleton residents could ring. If nothing else it would help to have one local resident whom everyone could trust to take calls and act. And it was a shame the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme was not working.

Councillors resolved to check the situation at the end of September.

Police feature again

Poor police coverage of Singleton was a source of irritation at the council meeting. The Inspector who was invited to attend, didn’t turn up, nor did he tender his apologies. Had he been there, said Cllr Chew, she would have raised a number of issues, including:

  • – The silly situation now where six villages come under one beat, especially as the police are bound to spend more effort on covering the biggest two, Staining and Elswick.
  • – The lack of consistency of the police coverage – officers never remained on the beat for long, a typical case being our last CBM who had been moved after only 14 months’ covering the parish. Yet it takes time and consistency to build trust and good working relationships with local people.
  • – She would also have raised the council’s continuing concern about speeding, and a need for traffic calming measures. Farmers’ needs had always been given as the reason there were no sleeping policemen in the parish, but tractors were driving at totally inappropriate speeds.
  • – Some speeding measures had been very successful – more than 300 motorists had recently been trapped by speed cameras – but she also wanted the police to spend more effort catching people using mobile phones or not using seatbelts.

Planning issues

Councillors objected to a retrospective application for a garden wall at 16 Miller Crescent and recommended its refusal on two grounds – that its appearance does not harmonise with existing front garden boundaries and therefore contravenes HL5 by adversely affecting the streetscene; and also that it does not enhance, improve or reflect the character of the conservation area, contravening EP3.

Cllr Maxine Chew did not take part in the discussions, leaving the room, as she had declared a personal and prejudicial interest because she knew the people involved in submitting the application.

Puzzle Wood

See for yourself how work is progressing at Puzzle Wood. Organiser Dave Kay has uploaded a number of photos of the work onto his blog, at


Cllr Bailey reported that he had attended the fracking protestors’ meeting held at the River Wyre Hotel on 10th August and had been concerned at the mis-informed emphasis people were putting on their protests by comparing events in the USA with the totally different situation at Singleton.

Cllr Chew said she had emailed the organiser of the ‘Camp Frack’ planned for mid-September, but had had no reply. Since our meeting the protestors have once again delivered leaflets around the parish.

Next meeting

It’s on Thursday, 22nd September 2011, starting at 7.30pm, as usual; and in the Church Vestry, as usual. All are welcome.