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Bring back old style policing

SATURDAY night, there’s a loud knock at the front door. My neighbour is in the street, he tells me he’s just witnessed a youth take a flying kick, first at his car door mirror, then at ours.

Both our passenger side mirrors are hanging limp by a thread of wire. It had been hit so hard it came clean off the car, shattering the mounting.

With my neighbour on the phone to the police, we gave chase, but there were numerous gangs of lads on the street Saturday night.

Most of them apparently came up on the bus from Bridlington specifically to cause vandalism and trouble.

This is now getting to be an all too common occurance. The police arrived in force, but there attitude was, lets say, disappointing.

They drove around a while, spoke to some kids, then went.

My neighbour tried to give a description to one officer, and was theatened with arrest if he didn’t stop swearing. Surely this officer should know the difference between swearing and been sworn at.

These kids wander around at random causeing criminal damage and get away scott free. Do their parents know what they have been up to?

They come to Flamborough as it’s seen as a soft target. We used to have a resident police officer in the village and trouble like this was unheard of.

But since this post was abolished, the front line of defence has passed to a PCSO, who is fantastic at handing out parking tickets at the local school, but doesn’t quite cut the mustard when it comes to proper crime.

This is not a dig at anyone personally, it seems the whole system of dealing with this kind of trouble is wrong.

The kids know PCSOs have limited powers, and play on that weakness.

Bring back ‘proper coppers’ with the right attitude, get them back on the streets patrolling on foot, where the trouble occurs, not cocooned in their patrol cars.

I think the majority of people would agree with me that we need a return to the Gene Hunt style of policing to retake control of our streets and neighbourhoods and stop criminal damage such as this, full stop.

The system is just too soft on this sort of crime. I’m now £50 out of pocket for a new mirror. I doubt I will see that money again.

Mr R Bond, via email,

Tower Street, Flamborough.

Re-election

AFTER suffering one of the worst winters recorded here in Bridlington, we hopefully look forward to an early spring and a hot summer.

As we enter 2011, local politicians will be gearing themselves up for the forthcoming election in May.

Not just the Town Council but seats will be up for grabs on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Many existing Town Councillors will be standing for re-election.

With the financial restraints and cuts in the economy which the coalition Government have imposed upon us, it is going to be tough for most of us to get through this economic crisis.

That is why I wish to pay tribute to my fellow Town Councillors, regardless of their political stance.

In all of my 30 years of involvement in local politics and representing the people of Bridlington, it has been a privilege and a pleasure to have served with them.

We all have one thing in common, working to improve Bridlington.

Not wishing to be unjust to other councillors for whom I have high regard, I feel that there are three councillors which stand out in my mind.

Coun Shelaugh Finlay, chairman of the finance and general purpose committee and the current Mayor, for discharging her duties in a direct sensible and prudent manner.

Coun Pam Austin, chairman of our news letter, who puts in an enormous amount of work informing the public of the council’s work and events.

Finally Coun Michael Charlesworth for his no holds barred in his rhetoric in representing us here in Bridlington against our masters in Beverly.

To all the councillors who seek re-election I wish you luck, because you are all an asset to the Town Council and deserve to be re-elected.

It begs the question, however, will I be standing for re-election? Yes I will!

Coun Cyril H D Marsburg,

Marshall Avenue, Bridlington.

Lack of bins

ME AND my friend between us have four dogs.We go for a walk every morning in Bridlington and are disgusted by the lack of litter bins and designated poo bins.

Whilst on our walks we sometimes can walk for half an hour with our bag of poo before we come across a bin.

We always carry poo bags for those of you who think we don’t pick up our dog mess.

Bridlington being a seaside resort where a lot of people bring dogs to walk, we feel more bins should be available, especially poo bins, as it may help other dog owners feel abliged to pick up their own dogs mess, as at the moment there is a lot of poo just left on the pavements.

Rachael Salter and Lisa Booth, via email,

Cambridge Street, Bridlington.

Spa – a delight

MYSELF and my parents, who drove through from York, have just spent a bleak and wet Sunday afternoon taking advantage of one of the free tours of the Spa.

What an absolute delight it was and I would highly recommend it to locals and visitors alike. The staff guiding us were so enthusiastic about the building, it’s history and future, that it was impossible not to get caught up in it.

We were allowed in areas which the public do not usually access, such as the old and new dressing rooms, the old sun rooms and the Royal Hall balcony.

The stunning art deco architecture of the Royal Hall alone is worth the visit.

Combined with the views of the harbour from the many aspects and the insight into the cultural importance and history, which can almost be felt in the dance hall and theatre, it is a must for anyone.

The Spa receives no end of criticism, but it is about time we supported it and welcomed the developments.

The staff work hard to attract big stars, whom in turn attract people to the town and the local businesses. We should be proud of our beautiful piece of social history.

Laura Harrison, via email,

St Oswald Road, Bridlington.

More events

THE Spa wants our feedback. More events are needed, especially in November, January and February, to help local businesses.

We have spent 20 milliion on the Spa through our council tax etc. and we are not getting the returns we need.

We have not had a decent event for the local hotels since Status Quo at the beginning of November!

John Smith, via email,

Windsor Crescent, Bridlington.

Appalling roads

ONCE again I’ve had to endure the appalling road conditions on the A614 on my journey to work.

Having had my windscreen shattered by debris from the potholes and the subsequent expense of replacement, I now have the indignity of travelling behind East Riding of Yorkshire Council vehicles in the livery of ‘Play Area Inspection Vehicles’.

Where are the ‘Third World Cart Track Inspection Vehicles’?

The conditions of these roads is beyond belief and all we get is excuses ranging from the bad weather to cuts in funding.

Perhaps I can use that excuse when I refuse to pay council or road tax!

OK there are a few roadside signs indicating Temporary Road Surface – for temporary read ‘non-existent road surface’.

When I arrived in Bridlington it was even worse. I was forced to drive in the middle of the road to avoid the craters on St John’s Street and Queensgate. It’s been like this for weeks with no apparent action from ERYC.

Perhaps if we arranged a campaign to set up regular ‘Drive Slow’ protests at peak hours on the A614, with a large number of vehicles travelling at 10mph, the council may divert some of their budget to paying for road improvements rather that awarding their executives ridiculious salaries and bonus payments.

If I could avoid going to Bridlington I would. I suggest others take the same view. ERYC take note.

Stephen W Bucknall, via email,

Cliff Road, Hornsea.

Coastguard cuts warning

I AM writing regarding the article on the coastguard and East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight’s statement: “I have been given a categorical assurance by the minister that these changes relate basically to people who answer the telephone, there are no cutbacks to the frontline.”

As one of those supposed “call takers”, can I address his statement.

I have 35 years experience in the shipping industry, served in the Royal Navy, was a Certified Merchant Navy Officer, served as first mate on a merchant ship, I hold a Yacht Masters Certificate of Competence, and have worked in Vessel Traffic Services and Marine Pilotage.

My Coastguard training took one year after which I had to spend 10 days taking exams in search planning, chart work, meteorology, search and rescue coordination, counter pollution general maritime knowledge.

I am required to have a Maritime Radio Certificate. My colleagues have similar backgrounds and training.

Does Mr Knight think this is the requirement for a mere “call taker”?

I would suggest he visits the coastguard station at Bridilington and learns the truth.

The people living on the east coast should be aware, if the coastguard station closes, then if you or your family are in trouble on the coast you will have to rely on someone in Portsmouth, who may have never visited Bridlington to save them.

Stephen Ward, via email,

Park Lane, Cottingham.

Invite to MP

I WAS astounded by the comments attributed to Greg Knight MP in the Free Press (January 13 – Brid coastguard job cuts plan sparks safety fears).

Bridlington MP Greg Knight said that he had assurances from the minister that the coastguard service would not be compromised under the proposed changes.

He went on to say “I have been given a categorical assurance by the minister that these changes relate basically to people who answer the telephone, there are no cutbacks to the frontline”.

Greg Knight has been misled, I believe deliberately for political reasons, by the minister Mike Penning, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Transport.

I would like to invite Mr Knight to visit the coastguard station in Bridlington to see for himself whether the cutbacks will be frontline or not.

True, coastguards who work in the ops rooms do answer the telephone as well as other methods of communication, but it doesn’t end there.

The other emergency services have control room staff who take an emergency call and then pass the information on to another department for further action.

Coastguards in the ops room in Bridlington take the emergency call and then take that further action themselves.

The team – usually four or five coastguards, plan and coordinate all Search and Rescue (SAR) activity needed to save people and vessels who may be in danger anywhere between the River Humber and the Scottish Border.

Bridlington coastguards decide which SAR units are needed (lifeboats, helicopters, coastguard teams, lifeguards etc) and coordinate their activities.

Bridlington coastguards calculate the ever changing position, size and shape of a search area at sea by calculating the direction and rate of drift caused by the effects of wind and tide.

Bridlington coastguards predict the possible movements of missing persons by profiling them – looking at the reason the person has gone missing and their history (see page 7 of the Free Press on January 13 – Search for Woman).

Each police force in the country has a few specialist officers (POLSAs) who are trained to do this. All ops room coastguards are trained how to profile missing persons and coordinate the search for them.

It is Bridlington coastguards who decide when to end a search.

We are the ones who have to decide when there is no hope of finding the person alive and that the safety and welfare of the searchers should be our main concern.

We are the people who must justify that decision to the person’s family.

And finally, if things go wrong, we are the ones who must face a court of law and answer why certain decisions and actions were taken while others were not.

We are the one’s who must bear the consequences of our actions.

It is the lifeboat crews, helicopter crews, coastguard rescue teams etc who get the plaudits, and quite rightly so.

They are the people who put themselves into hazardous situations to bring those in danger to safety while we sit in an office.

That is not the whole picture, only the picture perceived by the misinformed.

These are only a few of the many and varied duties of ops room coastguards.

If the Government’s plan to modernise the Coastguard Service goes through then the only search planning that 243 coastguards (out of 491 around the coast) will be doing in future will be for the Job Seeker’s Allowance.

Mr Knight, please come and visit Humber Coastguard in Bridlington and decide for yourself whether we are just call takers.

Paul Chapman, via email,

Coastguard Watch Officer,

PCS Union Branch Secretary.

Direct insult

AN OPEN letter to Greg Knight MP:

I write as a serving Coastguard Watch Officer in response to your comments, published in the Bridlington Free Press on January 13, regarding the proposed reforms to the Coastguard Service.

To state that the proposals do no affect front line staff – only those who answer the telephone – is a direct insult to all those employed in Coastguard Operations Centres across the country and only serves to highlight your ignorance of an Emergency Service serving a large proportion of your Constituency!

As a “call taker” of seven years service, I have undergone seven years of continuous training and examination to achieve a standard of competency which enables me (as part of a team) to carry out search planning and the execution of Search and Rescue Missions, which together with a high degree of local knowledge of the area we cover (Scottish Borders to South Bank of River Humber) means I am able to task the relevant resources to an incident in a timely manner.

Unlike other emergency services, when a call comes in to our operations room, we take the call and deal with the outcome.

If the emergency is at sea – a vessel sinking or broken down and drifting – it is essential to have the knowledge and skills to plan where the vessel will be (due to tide, wind, leeway, local anomalies, local currents and other factors) when rescue services arrive on scene.

With services such as Police, Fire and Ambulance, their casualties are mostly static and a postcode is all that is necessary to locate them – there are NO postcodes at sea!

I understand that as part of the consultation period, it is possible for you to arrange to visit and spend time in our operations room, preferably on a busy weekend or Bank Holiday, when you could see for yourself what the “Telephone Operators” of HM Coastguard actually do – and with great pride – even though our salaries are currently much less than many other equivalent grades in the same Civil Service.

I look forward to meeting you.

Lynda Bell, via email,

Medina Road, Hull.

Pump prices

RE MR Akeroyd’s letter on fuel prices (Free Press last week), I think you will find that the pump prices are set centrally (as are all prices within the supermarkets) and not by the individual managers.

Try writing to the relevant head offices, it would be interesting to hear their replies.

Alan Newell, via email,

Mount Crescent, Bridlington.

State of verges

I KNOW this subject has been mentioned in the past, but the problem has not been solved.

I am talking about the state of the grass verges along Cardigan Road.

In some areas wooden posts prevent motorists mounting the kerbs.

But in others (particularly between Richmond Street and Horsforth Avenue) there is hardly any grass, just a load of muddy ruts.

I know we have had some “mucky” weather, but surely this is more reason to keep off the grass verges.

If offenders were made to pay for repairs maybe they would think twice.

B Chadwick, via email,

Midway Avenue, Bridlington.

RSPCA thanks

I AM a member of the ‘Buy a Brick’ appeal team for the new Bridlington RSPCA Cattery, ‘put in the spotlight’ so to speak by our treasurer Mrs Kay Harrison (Free Press Report)

I in turn would like to pay tribute to our loyal supporters in the background.

Yes, we have gone out to events with our stalls but these supporters have provided us with lovely knitted and crocheted things to sell, toys for our tombola, books, jigsaws and many other items.

Supporters, not only in Bridlington area but from West Yorkshire as well.

It is wonderful at last to fulfil ‘our dream’, but without their help too it would not have been possible. Many, many thanks to you all.

Sheila Jowett,

Bemrose Grove, Bridlington.

Shocking roads

WHILST I, along with other road users, was pleased to see your front page highlighting the shocking state of our roads, it was a shame that you ended the article by giving the impression that all was well as “workmen were out yesterday filling potholes”.

On Christmas Eve I had the misfortune to drop both nearside wheels into a crater on Flamborough Road opposite the Saint Anne’s Road junction.

I await my MOT inspection with some trepidation, having already been forced to replace a wheel that had been damaged by the failure or our council to repair our roads.

I recently had to drive to Hull and the further you get from Brid, the better becomes the road surface.

The state of the road at Barmston, or Carnaby might well discourage drivers from venturing further into Brid.

The same applies driving to Scarborough, as there are very few potholes/bomb craters after the county boundary.

The potholes/bomb craters that disfigure our roads have not just been caused by the recent bad weather, nor by frosts in January/February 2010, nor even by the snow in November/December 2009.

The snow and ice of the last 13 months will have made matters worse, but the roads round Bridlington were already the worst in the county in mid 2009, and now they are a major liability to cars, motor bikes and push bikes.

You may have seen Coun Grove (the chairman responsible for our roads) on TV recently. He laughed at the suggestion that the council should aim to repair all damaged roads.

This is the same Coun Grove that was bragging (in the East Riding News July 2009) what a wonderful job was being done in resurfacing roads across the length and breadth of the county. Perhaps he does not realise that Brid is part of the East Riding.

Can you use your knowledge of the Freedom of Information Act to find out:

l How much funding has been provided by the government to repair roads, compared to other councils.

l How much has been spent – broken down into the different areas of the East Riding.

l If any of Brid’s allocation has been sunk into laying, and then relaying, Chapel Street and South Marine Drive.

l Whether Brid is adequately represented in having only eight councilors out of a total of 68.

l The voting record of our Brid councillors on matters such as road repairs, as it is interesting to note that out of eight Brid councillors, only three live in town.

l Whether the council have considered marking the potholes/bomb craters with white paint.

Please keep the state of our roads as your “cause célèbre” for 2011.

Gordon Sykes, via email,

Saint James Road, Bridlington.

Germany better

I WRITE this letter from the Mayence Rhineland-Palatinate area of Germany, where I am currently staying.

Like ourselves, this area has had two falls of recent heavy snow – 20cm and 30cm – with even some parts of the Rhine freezing.

Some readers may recall a previous letter after the first fall – “Better to clear it immediately rather than let it settle”.

Quite by chance I have again met the same German snow clearing operations foreman.

He was enjoying a cigar outside the Health Awareness Clinic, repairing the one and only pothole in sight.

Despite his liking for the deadly weed, he appeared to have a profound understanding of his responsibilities – “We have a responsibility for the safety and welfare of our citizens.”

There was strong evidence that both roads and pavements had been regularly salted and gritted.

Whilst I was impressed by his technical knowledge – “Consolidated snow forms ice which breaks up the road surface.”

I was even more impressed by his concern for his own people – “We have to keep the roads clear, our schools open, so that our young people can continue to learn.”

Unlike the UK, not a single school in this area had to close because of the snow.

As he appeared somewhat short of work, repairing the one pothole, I invited him and his team of workmen to come to the UK and visit the road over the Sewerby level crossing.

I am curious as to what he would make of it? Not surprisingly he declined, but I wondered if our council might like to send a team of their own workmen to find out how the Germans effectively tackle their snow clearing operations?

Despite similar heavy snow Germany did not grind to a halt and their road and pavement structure appears basically sound.

David Dawson, via email,

Horseshoe Drive, Sewerby.