Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Abusing your position Russell?

Last week I wrote about the presentation on the future of policing in RCT.  Included in that presentation there was a list of Police stations which were graded green - definitely staying open;  red  - definitely closing and amber. The amber stations included Treforest, Rhydyfelin and Tonyrefail.  In these locations Superintendent O’Neill assured Members that they would be maintaining the Police presence but looking at alternative ways of providing the service.  Some of those stations may close, some may not.
Now this was just seven days ago, and the report was, everyone was assured, hot off the press. So it is reasonable to expect that discussions and decisions would take longer than a week to come to fruition.
It came as a surprise then when on Monday I had an email from Welsh Lib Dem Councillor Mike Powell (currently holidaying in France) asking if I had heard any more about Tonyrefail station being kept open.  A journalist had contacted him for comment on a press release issued by Russell Roberts stating that it was to stay open.
Russell is of course the leader of RCT Council and also Chair of the South Wales Police Authority.
The resulting article – brief though it is – appeared in the Pontypridd Observer today.
 “The pledge to protect patrols of police and PCSOs and to find a better police base in the community was given to RCT councilors in the village from Chief Superintendent Kevin O’Neil.  It came despite the force forecasting that there will be 625 fewer workers and 395 fewer police officers by 2015 to comply with Government cuts.
Mr O’Neil gave the undertaking to RCT council leader Russell Roberts – who also chairs the South Wales Police Authority – and ward councillors Eudine Hanagan and Bob McDonald after they swore to oppose any reduction.”
hhmmm…  You would think the Chair of the Police Authority may have some inside knowledge would you not?  But surely not that he would have any influence over such operational decisions in his own ward.
Yet the full press release sent out by the three Tonyrefail Labour Councillors seems to suggest he may have.
The press release, as published on a local forum, quotes Cllr Bob McDonald as saying

"Having Cllr Roberts as a member of the Police Authority has allowed us to have direct access into the decision making process and protect our local Police Station."

It also states that
Tonyrefail Councillors have secured a categorical assurance from the Chief Superintendent of Police in Rhondda Cynon Taf that there will be no closure of Police Station or reductions in the level of Policing in Tonyrefail.
Eudine Hanagan, Cabinet Member for Education, piped up with
"Following our representations I am pleased that Tonyrefail has received assurances that our Police Station is not affected, despite the savage cuts being imposed on Wales by the CONDEM Government.”
Ah, Eudine, a joy as always.
Russell Roberts should maybe have shut up and – in the words of his recently reprimanded colleague the former Mayor – give his a**e a chance!
Instead he seemed determined to dig himself deeper.
"We requested the meeting with Chief Superintendent Kevin O'Neil to seek assurances that Tonyrefail Police Station was safe from the cuts South Wales Police are currently being forced to make.”
We are pleased to receive this categorical assurance as we appreciate the difficult position the Police find themselves in as a result of substantial cuts to their funding.”
So there we have it then, the ‘I’m all right Jack’ attitude typical of Labour politicians.  No wonder he wants to keep a finger in so many pies.
Of course, the press release is such a jumble it is difficult to pick out what is true and what is wishful thinking on the part of the three amigos.  Eluned Parrott AM has written to Superintendent O’Neill asking for clarification on the future of all RCT stations on the ‘amber’ list.  The response should be interesting.

No comments: