Alok Sharma, Member of Parliament for Reading West, has held in Southcote ward the third in a series of public meetings across Reading for residents to hear from senior police officers. The meeting took place on Thursday 21st March at Southcote Primary School in Silchester Road and in excess of 35 people attended.
The meeting gave local residents from Southcote and Norcot wards the opportunity to raise local policing issues with the Reading Policing Area commander, Superintendent Stuart Greenfield, and the head of the local Neighbourhood Policing Team, Inspector PJ Binns. Alok chaired the discussions, which included questions on a wide range of police-related issues.
Brunel Road residents raised the issue of very long-running and persistent anti-social behaviour in their area from a number of problem families. This has taken the form of verbal and racial abuse as well as damage to property and vehicles, and residents explained that they had engaged with the Police, Council and other agencies over a very long period of time, but that the problems remain unresolved. The police promised to meet separately with concerned Brunel Road residents to look at new solutions to the problem.
Local residents also raised the issue of speeding on Southcote Lane, Burghfield Road and Hatford Road, as well as the sheer volume of traffic that uses Southcote Lane. Concerns were raised about the safety of the road given the number of children of school age who cross the road on a daily basis, and residents called for a crossing on the road, as well as more effective speed enforcement. The police agreed to look at deploying some resources for speed enforcement, but explained that the issue of a crossing would have to be raised with the local Council.
A number of attendees also voiced their concerns about illegal parking on verges and pavements, which damages verges creating an eyesore and potentially causes obstructions. Superintendent Greenfield explained that parking enforcement has been decriminalised, and comes under the local Council, although the police can intervene if they discover vehicles parked in such a way that they posing a risk. The police also explained that a consultation is starting in April in relation to the verge and pavement parking ban on certain roads.
The issue of burglaries in Norcot ward was raised, with residents asking about the strategies the police will use to sustain decreases in burglaries in the future. Superintendent Greenfield explained that the police are employing much more intelligence-led, targeted methodologies that allow them to focus on the 20% of prolific offenders that are generally responsible for 80% of the crime in the area.
Alok said: “The meeting highlighted some clear issues of concern in the local area, like the persistent anti-social behaviour in the Brunel Road area, and I know Neighbourhood Police Team Leader Inspector PJ Binns will be holding further follow up meetings with some local residents.”
Alok added: “We are rolling out the police meetings across the R West constituency and I hope by the time we hold the next Southcote meeting progress will have been made on the issues identified.”
Supt Stuart Greenfield, Local Police Area Commander for Reading, said: “I am grateful to everyone who attended the meeting as it provided me and my Neighbourhood Inspector, PJ Binns, a further insight into the current issues affecting people’s quality of life. We are focused on cutting crime in Reading and these types of meetings help us focus our priorities around the concerns of local residents.”
Stuart continued: “We will to continue to engage with our communities who can follow us on Twitter at @TVP_Reading and we will also be sending out message via Thames Valley Alert to residents with crime reduction advice, so I would urge people to sign up by visiting www.thamesvalleyalert.co.uk.”
Photo: Alok with Superintendent Stuart Greenfield and Inspector PJ Binns at the Southcote and Norcot wards public meeting with Thames Valley Police