Fines will not change behaviour

Christian Hogg, Liberal Democrat candidate for Fletton and Stanground

Saturday, 7th April 2018, 6:55 am
Speaker's Corner columnists - Peterborough Telegraph -, @peterboroughtel on Twitter,

Over the last few months, my Lib Dem colleagues and I have been out knocking on doors with our annual survey to find out what matters most to residents across our city.

This year residents have told us that crime and anti-social behaviour is now their top concern. This includes issues such as speeding, problem parking, graffiti, dog fouling and fly-tipping. As a former police officer, I understand just how much pressure the police are under. National budget cuts have meant many of the functions the police force used to do, no longer happen. Indeed, many people I meet complain they can’t remember the last time they saw a “bobby on the beat”.

It is important to remember that we shouldn’t blame our hardworking police officers for the problems we face, as they too are being let down by politicians. Indeed, rather than working to cut crime across Peterborough our current elected Police and Crime Commissioner has spent countless hours undertaking a hostile takeover of our fire service.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

If Theresa May’s government, or our Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner, aren’t serious about tackling crime then our council needs to be. The Lib Dems believe we need to change the council’s attitude to enforcement. We think the way Peterborough’s current Conservative administration have contracted an external company Kingdom to issue fines, at a profit, is completely wrong. What the Conservatives don’t seem to understand is littering or pavement cycling shouldn’t be treated as a cash cow to subsidise pay rises for councillors or refurbishments of the Town Hall.

Enforcement, and particularly fines, are there to change behaviour. I want Peterborough to become cleaner and safer but we need to recognise fines alone won’t do that. We need to improve education and engagement as well as enforce, if want our city to change for the better. Fly-tipping, litter and graffiti are on the rise in the residential parts of our city, and we need to tackle it. For my Lib Dem colleagues and I, this means expanding the number of council’s Prevention and Enforcement Officers, who spend their time is residential areas, yes issuing fines, when necessary, but also educating and engaging with the community to reduce the problems in the first place.

We would do this by employing additional officers, who spend all their time in residential areas rather than being pulled into the city centre. We also believe that the city council should also look to expand its programme of co-funding enforcement officers by working with parish councils to increase the number of officers working in areas with parish councils. I’m convinced that if the people who chose to leave their dog’s waste on the pavements in streets like High Street, Fletton or Chapel Street, Stanground regularly saw an enforcement officer walking the streets then they’d be much more likely to clear up after their dog. Some will argue that there isn’t enough money for this, but the council is wasting so much money sending contractors out to pick up the dog waste or clear fly-tipping we argue we can’t afford not to do it. The truth is that the current Conservative-administration is doing such a bad job of cleaning up, that in the worse affected areas, they are in effect forcing parents to walk in the road to avoid pushing their prams through dog waste. When it comes to other types of anti-social behaviour, such as speeding the council can do some small things, which will take minimal investment, but evidence shows can make a huge difference. The Lib Dems believe the council should adopt the commonsense approach of Conservative-led Richmond upon Thames, by allowing residents to introduce a 20mph zone where a majority of residents would like to see it introduced. This policy would allow residents living in areas like the Vista Development, to make their roads safer without forcing a 20mph zone on all residents across the city.