Residents come out in force to talk about crime in Bourton


Over the last 6 months Cllr Paul Hodgkinson has been approached by a lot of residents about the problem of anti-social behaviour in Bourton on the Water.

These issues range from a group of children and young adults threatening other people, swearing, drinking and taking drugs as well as littering around the village.

As a result of this he first invited the Police & Crime Commissioner Martin Surl to come to Bourton in February to hear for himself the challenges the village faces. Surl heard from residents first hand and recognised the need to take action to sort this out. Now, we’ve had a follow up to this meeting in May.

Paul chaired the recent meeting at the Community Centre and 70 residents turned out to voice their continued worries over crime. In particular, the police were told that more had to be done to show that anti social behaviour is unacceptable and can’t be tolerated. There were heartfelt examples from people whose lives are being negatively impacted.

The police inspector for the area, Karen Ellis, has committed to working with local people to get to grips with the situation. Key members of the community will be working with the police in the next few months to help bring the issues under control. Individuals who have been causing problems are being identified and further action will be taken. But the police do need people to come forward with specific examples otherwise they can’t act. The number to ring is 101.

CCTV in the village could be one way of collecting evidence and the Parish Council explained that it was expensive but that they were still considering this – an option here is to look for grants to pay for this.

On a plus point, the Parish Council and others have successfully launched a new youth club. Numbers have been increasing and Around 30 young people came along to the first sessions and this is a really positive way of heading off any future issues with anti-social behaviour.

There were also commitments by the police to keep monitoring and sorting out littering, drug use and vandalism at specific locations.

On a different note, the issue of speeding traffic came up despite the cut to a 20mph limit recently. The Community Speedwatch team have been active after re-forming and will continue to do what they can to alert drivers including activity in different parts of the village. Better signage will also be introduced by Highways.

Finally, good news that an ATM will be installed at the existing Co-op store from 9 June following the ram raid on Lloyds Bank in April. The bravery of Tony Hughes who single handedly stopped the cash being stolen was acknowledged at the meeting with the biggest round of applause of the night.

There’ll be a follow up meeting with the police and Deputy PCC in October to make sure that we keep the momentum going on addressing these issues. Details of that meeting will be publicised nearer the time.

Parliamentary candidate in urgent talks with Police Commissioner over Water Park report

Councillor Paul Hodgkinson, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the Cotswolds, has arranged an urgent meeting with Gloucestershire Police Commissioner Martin Surl over criticism of the force in the Operation Juggler report.

Paul BBC bw

The two-year review by an outside team from The City of London Police into allegations of fraud and corruption in the Cotswold Water Park concludes: “It is clear that the initial complaint to Gloucestershire Police was not handled as well as it could have been.”

The report  goes on to detail how officers failed to take any formal witness statements when local resident Esmond Jenkins, now a Lib Dem councillor, first reported his suspicions about fraud at Cotswold Water Park Society in January 2010. It was not until a month later that the police launched a “covert” investigation into CWPS Chief Executive Dennis Grant and another employee who has since died.

Grant was eventually challenged by his assistant Tasha Flaherty who went on to discover a secret bank account in Banbury which he had used to launder £660,000 stolen from the Society. But, on 21 April 2010 her repeated attempts to report the crime were rebuffed by the police.

The COLP report states: “On 21st April 2010 CWPS managers made 4 attempts to report the matter to police. The first attempt was via telephone to Thames Valley Police at Banbury who directed them to report in person to Cirencester where the Station Officer refused to take the report due to insufficient evidence.

“The third attempt was again via telephone to the Gloucestershire Police switchboard which again directed them back to Cirencester where they returned to speak to the same Station Officer who again refused to take the report.”

Cllr Hodgkinson (Churn Valley), leader of the Lib Dem group on Cotswold District Council, said: “The full scale of the fiasco when Grant’s crimes were first reported have finally been laid bare in this report and it is deeply worrying.

“I will be seeing Martin Surl to discuss what can be done to reassure public minded citizens that they will be listened to when they take their suspicions to the police.

“Without the tenacity of Cllr Jenkins and Tasha Flaherty, who both did their own investigations after being turned away by the police, there is a strong probability that Grant would never have been brought to justice.”

The COLP report recommends that the force reviews guidance given to officers faced with complex frauds and other serious crimes and “update and educate their staff where necessary.”

Cllr Hodgkinson said: “I hope to discuss with the Police and Crime Commissioner the steps taken so far and what more can be done to restore public confidence, especially among communities in the Water Park where it has been seriously eroded in recent years.”

No Crash group making “good progress” in bid to reduce speeds on A436

A stop speeding campaign to cut the number of deaths and collisions on a notorious road near Cheltenham is making good progress, say leaders.

Paul Hodgkinson with residents and councillors who formed 'No Crash' last year.

Paul Hodgkinson with residents and councillors who formed ‘No Crash’ last year.

Members of action group North Cotswolds Rural area Against Speeding Harm (No Crash) say they have made some initial breakthroughs in calls for improved signage along the A436 and surrounding villages.

The group was formed last year after residents voiced concerns over speeding on the route between the Air Balloon roundabout and Bourton-on-the-Water. Alarming figures released in December showed that 37 per cent of motorists broke the speed limit along the stretch with some travelling at up to 130mph.

Councillor Paul Hodgkinson, (Churn Valley), who is chairman of No Crash, said following meetings with police and Gloucestershire Highways, several improvements were planned.

They include:

·         A school safety zone in Andoversford to make it safer for children crossing including flashing signs to alert drivers.

·         Clearer warnings of upcoming junctions for motorists travelling along the A436.

·        Two new signs for the Hampen village hamlet to alert drivers that people live along the road.

·         A survey in Andoversford to look at the flow and direction of traffic through the village with a view to establishing whether traffic for the A40 should be diverted away from the village.

·         Gateway features for Shipton village to reduce speed at the entrance and exits.

Mr Hodgkinson said the moves were a good start to tackling issues on the road, which has been the site of numerous collisions over the years. Only last month there was a nine-car pile-up with two vehicles flipping onto their roofs.

He said: “Given that we only set up the group last summer we feel we are making good progress, but there is still a lot to do.

“We are still concerned about speed along the eastern parts of the A436 – in particular on the way to Bourton.

“Police have confirmed they have carried our regular speed checks along parts of the road, focusing on the old restaurant site near Andoversford.

“Quarry lorries have been seen regularly going over the lorry speed limit by our group members so police and Gloucestershire Highways are now also aware.

“Overall it’s good news so far. Progress is being made and tangible steps are being taken to improve safety.”

The No Crash group’s next meeting will be in April.