Glastonbury & Street Green Party

Green Mayor meets Police Commander

Mayor of Glastonbury, Green Councillor Jon Cousins writes: On Wednesday 23rd November, I met with Chief Inspector Mark Edgington – Local Policing Commander for the Avon & Somerset Constabulary’s East Somerset Division – at Glastonbury Town Hall.

BACKGROUND
As with meeting the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens in October, the background to meeting with the Chief Inspector has been my attempt to help address the increasing anti-social behaviour that Glastonbury’s community has been suffering – the intimidation, drunkenness, racial and verbal abuse, and open drug dealing that so many members of our community have raised with me – a situation which has escalated with an attempted murder on 14th September, followed by a second serious assault on 28th October – both incidents were stabbings; both occurred in broad daylight; both happening within yards of one of our schools…

IMPACT OF POLICE FUNDING CUTS:
The other background factor, which Sue Mountstevens had been very candid about, is the impact of the austerity funding cuts imposed by central government on the Police service as a whole, and the fact that Avon and Somerset has been intentionally ‘dampened’ – provided with less resources than other constabularies, resulting in £14 million ‘missing’ from the budget; which means 350 fewer officers, PCSOs and staff than the average!

'Disaster' worries as drugs service moves out of town CSG 6th October 2016'Disaster' worries as drugs service moves out of town – Central Somerset Gazette, 6th October 2016

‘Disaster’ worries as drugs service moves out of town – Central Somerset Gazette, 6th October 2016.

THE MEETING:
Mark Edgington came to the Town Hall with Inspector Mark Nicholson of Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Police Team, and they met with me and the Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Emma George to explore the proposed options to help the situation in Glastonbury – resulting from my meeting with the PCC.

1) The deployment of officers for a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street.
The Chief Inspector reiterating the message of the PCC – the Force has undergone major efficiency savings as a result of ‘Austerity’, and – in addition – will need to make further savings of £5½million… all of which has had, and will have, an understandable impact on resources and operations.

I observed that the biggest response I’ve received from Glastonbury residents was their concern around the lack of a visible police presence – and the feeling that this lack has contributed directly to the rise in the incidents and problems we are facing as a community.

This was something highlighted during my consultation in September, and, as a result, Cllr George and I had previously discussed the deployment of officers for a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street with Inspector Nicholson and our local Police Team’s Sargent Slade.

Mark Edgington confirmed that under the Force’s new ‘Police & Crime Plan’ (2016-2020), Neighbourhood Policing was a priority; “meaning visibility on the streets.”

2) The developing a Street Pastor team.
We discussed the potential of a Street Pastor team to work as part of a multi-agency approach to addressing the anti-social behaviour. Mark Edgington was fully behind this initiative, and we agreed that this would be a useful option for the newly convened Glastonbury Multi-Agency Meeting to develop.

3) Crimestoppers.
Mark Edgington endorsed the PCC’s assertion that people who are worried about reporting crimes and incidents because they fear reprisals should use this anonymous, independent service – which is not part of the police.
Find out more about Crimestoppers HERE.

4) Volunteers for Special Constables.
Mark Edgington felt that there was merit in promoting the Special Constabulary in Glastonbury; enabling people who felt strongly about the situation to volunteer for the Force. I mentioned that Cllr George and I would be meeting with the Special Chief Inspector Roger Ball and Special Constabulary Co-ordinator Katie Hancock later that day.
Find out more about volunteering for the Special Constabulary HERE.

£1 per month to keep town safe? – the front page of the Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016

£1 per month to keep town safe? – the front page of the Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016.

5) The ‘Precept’ funding a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO).
The final option we discussed was the potential for Glastonbury to fund an additional Police Community Support Officer for the town through the Parish Precept (the amount of the Council Tax that goes to Town and Parish Councils).

This is something I’ve encouraged residents to comment on – through the Central Somerset Gazette and via social media. Feedback has been largely positive, but with the specific condition that a PCSO paid for by Glastonbury would be on duty only in Glastonbury; providing a visible presence in the town – not constantly being called away to other areas.

Mark Edgington and Mark Nicholson confirmed that the Town Council could fund a dedicated Glastonbury PCSO – recalled that PCSO Mel Rowlands was originally funded as a Glastonbury specific support officer.

They confirmed that:
Although a PCSO does not have the power of arrest, they play a vital role, being the ‘eyes and ears’ of the community – feeding intelligence to the Neighbourhood Team’s Police Officers.”

PCSOs can deal with vulnerable people and – with regard to the new Public Space Protection Orders – they have the power to issue dispersal notices and warnings.”

A key element of the PCSO role is to problem solve with partners as well as responding to calls for service. This is important as being a good problem solver means that our officers treat the cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms. If a Glastonbury ‘One Team’ emerges from the current Multi-Agency Meetings, a new PCSO, paid for by Glastonbury, could undertake a co-ordinating role, helping to support the town’s areas of multiple deprivation.”

Several Town Councillors have wondered if a PCSO could assist with parking enforcement. Mark Nicholson confirmed that a PCSO can issue parking tickets to a car parked on a double yellow line if it is accompanied by an obstruction. The inspector went on to say, “PCSOs can issue tickets on behalf of other agencies (such as ‘NSL’) and I have an enquiry with them to see if that could be done for the Glastonbury PCSO.”

The Chief Inspector told us that “in terms of where a Glastonbury funded PCSO would start and finish their duty – what police station they book on and collect their equipment – I am unable to say with any certainty, but for the time being they would start at Street.” (N.B. Glastonbury Town Council may be able to provide an alternative ‘start and finish’ location for the new PCSO in Glastonbury).

Whilst Chief Inspector said that, in exceptional circumstances – “if there was a danger to life and limb and no other officer was available” – he would need to call away a PCSO to another area, he guaranteed that:

  • If a new PCSO is being paid for by Glastonbury, they will be working in Glastonbury for their tour of duty; not servicing other towns.”
  • A new PCSO paid for by Glastonbury would be in addition to the current Neighbourhood Police Team. We would not be looking to remove anyone already here.”
  • If the Town Council decided to fund a new PCSO, the Avon & Somerset Constabulary would provide a 30% abatement of the Cost Recovery Total, so essentially the Glastonbury would fund the Total Direct Cost.”

At the Town Council’s Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting on 29th November 2016, it was established that a Glastonbury funded Police Community Support Officer would add £11 to the Council Tax per band ‘D’ dwelling in Glastonbury – less than £1 per month.

Cllr Jon Cousins
Mayor of Glastonbury
Glastonbury Council, St. Edmund’s Ward
Town Hall, Magdalene Street, Glastonbury,
Somerset. BA6 9EL
jonfcousins@hotmail.com

Search for solutions to problems that have been a blight on town – Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016

Search for solutions to problems that have been a blight on town – Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016.

Switch EDF Off !

East Mendip Green Party will pay you to switch from EDF* to Ecotricity or Good Energy

• £40 for switching gas and electricity dual-fuel
• £20 for switching single fuel

Leader of the Green Party group on Mendip District Council and initiator of ‘Switch EDF Off’, Councillor Shane Collins posted on social media: “Feeling frustrated over Hinkley? So are we. EDF are in deep debt – 38billion and counting. Let’s switch EDF off by boycotting them. Please spread the word and let’s break EDF – and nuclear – and support renewables. It pays to go green!

Green Mayor of Glastonbury, Jon Cousins, endorses ‘Switch EDF Off’

Green Mayor of Glastonbury, Jon Cousins, endorses ‘Switch EDF Off’

If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please take a look at the ‘Switch EDF Off’ website.

* As well as EDF, who are 65% nuclear, East Mendip Green Party will pay you to leave any provider of nuclear energy. For instance, British Gas is 35% nuclear. Check the fuel mix of your energy provider HERE.

 

Green Councillor co-ordinates Syrian refugee volunteers

Following the successful housing of two Syrian families in Frome earlier this year as part of the ‘Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme’, Mendip District Council recently sought to establish the viability of housing a couple of families in Glastonbury or Street.

A Steering Group was formed some weeks ago comprising members of the community from Glastonbury and Street along with Councillors from both Councils. As co-ordinator of the Steering Group, Glastonbury’s Green Councillor and Deputy Mayor Emma George is in the process of organising a core group of volunteers from the community who’d be prepared to offer tangible support to the families once they are here.

Call for volunteers to support Syrian families in Mendip.

Call for volunteers to support Syrian families in Mendip.

The type of voluntary support needed could involve anything from help with getting to and from hospital and doctor’s appointments to English language coaching – and everything in between – which will help the refugees acclimatise to life in the UK.

The Steering Group is looking for privately rented accommodation suitable for housing a family; preferably not in too isolated a location. Full support will be given to potential landlords/ladies both in advance and during the process.

Speaking about the situation to the local press, Cllr. George reported, “I am happy to say that Glastonbury Town Council is also fully supportive of the initiative. As you’d expect, initially, there will be a lot of assistance from the relevant statutory agencies – but the overall aim is to encourage the refugee families towards and independent life. First, however, the search is on for suitable properties in which to house the families.”

I am pleased to announce that we have located a potentially suitable property in Glastonbury and are keen to find another one, also in Glastonbury, so the two families are able to support each other closely from within the same community.”

Anyone who thinks they may know of such a property or landlord/lady, would like more information, or who is interested in volunteering as part of the re-housng group can contact Cllr. Emma George, on emmageorge17@gmail.com or via Glastonbury Town Council Office on 01458 831769.

Syrian refugee families will be coming to Glastonbury and Street area from SomersetLive, 5th December 2016

Association highlights GSGP achievements

The Association of Green Councillors (AGC) has highlighted Glastonbury & Street Green Party’s members in their national review of ‘Green Councillor Achievements – Changing the way councils think 2014-2016’

Glastonbury’s Green Councillors feature at the top of the list of ‘Firsts’ – “celebrating Green solutions are cheaper and better for people”.

Featuring the Green led Town Council’s ban of chemical herbicides – proposed by Cllr Alyson Black in June 2015 – and the Council’s subsequent adoption of non-toxic weed control, the AGC website states:  “Glastonbury Greens managed to implement what is thought to be the country’s first ban on chemical herbicides (for use on council owned areas). They introduced Foamstream, an eco-friendly herbicide as a replacement.”

To find out more please visit the AGC website HERE.

Nationwide to open in Glastonbury!

Glastonbury’s Green Mayor, Cllr. Jon Cousins announces: “The Nationwide Building Society is opening a new branch in Glastonbury!

Following our community’s high profile Last Bank Standing Campaign earlier this year, the Nationwide Building Society has spent the last three months exploring the viability of opening a new branch in the town – consulting with various stakeholders, holding an on-line poll, and taking part in the Neighbourhood Plan consultation event on 14th and 15th October in the Town Hall.

On 18th November, the Nationwide issued the following statement:

Thank you to the whole Glastonbury community and those who have joined in showing their support for us coming to the town. We’re delighted to announce that Nationwide Building Society will be opening a branch in the heart of Glastonbury next summer with the location to be agreed early next year.

We’ll work closely with the local community to make sure your branch understands the services and facilities that you need. Above all, we want to provide a branch that works for the community and that will lead to local people actively using the service and opening accounts.

There will be lots of opportunity for the town to influence and help shape the branch over the coming months and you’ll be instrumental in its future and success.”

To find out more – visit the Nationwide’s website HERE.

 

Green Mayor meets Police & Crime Commissioner

Mayor of Glastonbury, Green Councillor Jon Cousins writes: On Tuesday 18th October, I met with Sue Mountstevens – the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) – at Glastonbury Town Hall.

BACKGROUND
The background to our meeting has been my attempt to help address the increasing anti-social behaviour that our community has been suffering for quite some time – the intimidation, drunkenness, racial and verbal abuse, and open drug dealing that so many of you have raised with me – a situation which came to a head with the serious assault near St. John’s Church on 14th September…

In preparation for the meeting, I’ve had several conversations with the local Police Beat Team; and the Deputy Mayor and I also met with Sergeant Slade and Inspector Nicholson… I also talked with an Area Commander, and I can tell you that – from Constable to Commander – I received the same response to my questioning:

The force seriously lacks resource; six years of cuts to the Police budget mean a loss of apparently 600-700 officers to the Avon and Somerset Constabulary…

13th September 2016, Green Mayor invites Glastonbury’s community to ‘Have Your Say’ to the PCC.

On 13th September 2016, Green Mayor invites Glastonbury’s community to ‘Have Your Say’ to the Police and Crime Commissioner.

On 13th September, I also asked you – Glastonbury’s community – for your thoughts on what I should raise with the PCC; to tell me your concerns; your issues; your ideas. I received lots of feedback from you, and I took a long list of the issues you raised to the meeting.

Finally, in the week before I met with Sue Mountstevens, I helped to arrange and took part a ‘multi agency’ meeting about crime in the town – with representatives from the police, town and district council, a number of support services, the PACT team, and the Church. This was very productive, and also gave me further points to raise.

THE MEETING:
Sue Mountstevens came to the Town Hall with her Staff Officer, Detective Sergeant Ashley Jones, and met with me and the Deputy Town Clerk, Gerard Tucker.

‘Give us back our town’ front page – Central Somerset Gazette, 22nd September 2016.

‘Give us back our town’ front page – Central Somerset Gazette, 22nd September 2016.

ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR:
Not surprisingly, the first issue we discussed was anti-social behaviour; the main concern for so many of us in the town. I asked the PCC why there was a lack of a visible police presence in Glastonbury; why there was not a beat officer patrolling, on foot, up and down the streets in the centre of our town? Many of you had fed-back that you felt the lack of police presence contributed to the rise of anti-social behaviour over the summer.

Part of Sue Mountsteven’s response was a practical point – since PC Mark Pople moved to Street, Glastonbury’s Police Beat Team has been short staffed, with a number of officers coming into post and leaving again… However, the good news for Glastonbury is that Sergeant Martha Spikes – who previously worked in the town a few years ago – has transferred from Wells to join the local team.

The PCC also confirmed that in the future, Inspector Nicholson would be able to re-deploy officers to a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street – something would certainly be prioritised next summer. However, the PCC did comment that with the reductions in the police budget officers could still be called away to other areas if required.

She informed us that the new Public Space Protection Orders – which Mendip District Council are currently developing – would also provide Glastonbury with a number of additional ‘Enforcement Officers’, who would work for the District Council.

We discussed the ‘multi-agency’ approach; particularly the work of the ‘One Team’ in dealing with troubled families and individuals. The PCC was pleased to hear about the meeting of the multi-agency group in Glastonbury the week before. One of the points raised at the Glastonbury multi-agency meeting was the proven effectiveness of ‘Street Pastors’ in dealing with street drinkers, addicts, and anti-social behaviour in Bristol. Sue Mountstevens told us about possible funding available to support Street Pastors team in our town.

‘Vicar: “This is worst I have known the High Street to be”.’ & ‘Mayor calls for more visible police presence’ – Central Somerset Gazette, 22nd September 2016.

‘Vicar: “This is worst I have known the High Street to be”.’ & ‘Mayor calls for more visible police presence’ – Central Somerset Gazette, 22nd September 2016.

INCREASE IN DRUG DEALING:
Another issue that many of you are concerned about is the increase in drug dealing in the town – particularly of the most harmful and addictive Class A drugs, like heron and cocaine. This is something that the Police are fully aware of, however, as the PCC reiterated, without residents reporting incidents, there is a disconnect between police intelligence and local knowledge.

We discussed the fact that many people who have got in touch with me about witnessing crimes – such a drug dealing – are scared to report these incidents to the Police for fear of reprisal. Sue Mountstevens understood people’s reticence, and reminded me about Crimestoppers – the national confidential reporting charity (independent to the police) to which the public can make truly anonymous reports about any criminal activity of any kind. This seemed like a very useful option, and I am providing a link HERE for anyone who is interested:

HEALTH AND WELLBEING:
We discussed issues around health and wellbeing, and the impact on policing from cuts in the support services for people with mental ill health, for the homeless, for vulnerable people, for addicts.

I mentioned the recent closure of Turning Point’s centre at the Old Library; the County Council’s cutbacks to the drug and alcohol service – this was an area that Sue Mountstevens was obviously passionate about, and she was not impressed by Somerset County Council’s performance. She said that as a result of the increased impact of mental ill health on the police service, she had placed professional mental health workers into the police call centres. Apparently, the only large authority in the Constabulary’s area not to financially support this service is Somerset County Council… !

I was amazed to hear the PCC talk about how 86% of the incidents Avon and Somerset deal with are not crime related – e.g. mental health incidents, safeguarding, and missing persons! I was shocked to discover that in the Avon and Somerset area, there are over 5,000 missing persons – many of them children…

IMPACT OF POLICE FUNDING CUTS:
Sue Mountstevens was very candid about the impact of the austerity funding cuts imposed by central government on the Police service as a whole, and that Avon and Somerset had been intentionally ‘dampened’ – provided with less resources than other constabularies, resulting in £14 million ‘missing’ from the budget; which means 350 fewer officers, PCSOs and staff than the average! Apparently, the PCC doesn’t have the power to set the amount of funding, and couldn’t explain why Avon and Somerset has seen a disproportionately low amount of funding!

I explained to the PCC that I was very disappointed to hear, from every level of the force – from Constable to Commander to Commissioner – about lack of resources. I asked: “If you are not responsible for funding the Police, who is?” “Brandon Lewis”, she replied, “the Policing and Fire Minister…

I will attempt to arrange a meeting with Brandon Lewis MP, he threatened to come and see me earlier this year, but he pulled out at the last minute…

SOLUTIONS:
In concluding our meeting, we discussed a number of options which might help the situation in Glastonbury.

1) as mentioned above, the deployment of officers for a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street;

2) developing a Street Pastor team, to work as part of a multi-agency approach to addressing the anti-social behaviour;

3) encouraging people who are concerned about reporting crimes and incidents, for fear of reprisal, to use Crimestoppers

4) Special Constables – residents who have had enough, and would like to make a difference, could apply to join the Special Constabulary… There are apparently vacancies for over 300 Specials in Avon and Somerset! I have asked the PCC to contact the Special Constabulary Coordinator in respect to recruiting for Special Officers in the Glastonbury area, and to make a closer collaboration with the Town Council and Special Constabulary

5) Finally, there is the potential for Glastonbury to fund an additional PCSO post for the town… However, that is something I would like to know your thoughts on…

With regard to a Glastonbury funded PCSO:
a) there has already been some discussion by the Council’s Town Centre Working Group about funding a private security firm to ‘police’ Glastonbury…
b) until 2002, Glastonbury Town Council used to annually fund Glastonbury Fire Station’s second Fire Engine…
c) a Glastonbury PCSO, funded through the Council Tax would probably cost each household around £1 per month…

What do you think? Is £1 a month worth a dedicated Glastonbury PCSO?

I look forward to your comments.
Jon

Cllr Jon Cousins
Mayor of Glastonbury
Glastonbury Council, St. Edmund’s Ward
Town Hall, Magdalene Street, Glastonbury,
Somerset. BA6 9EL
jonfcousins@hotmail.com

Council in communications revolution shock!

Since their election in May 2015, Glastonbury’s Green Councillors have been exploring how to improve communications between Glastonbury Town Council and the local residents – championing the development of a “two-way street”, where information flows from the council to the community, and – perhaps more importantly – information flows from the community to the council… !

This revolutionary concept has taken some time to be accepted by some of the ‘other’ councillors, who could not (cannot) see the merit in improving the Town Council’s website; adding feedback forms, providing access via the web to all the minutes of all the committees, producing press releases about the council’s actions, or… engaging in social media… !

Newly elected Green Councillors quickly established Facebook ‘open groups’ for each of the town’s four wards, administered by the local ward councillors.

These groups were not embraced by all the Town Councillors, but they did begin to provide a way for Facebook users to directly raise issues and state their concerns – and the groups have proved very effective.

Glastonbury Town Council press release header.

Glastonbury Town Council press release header.

The first formal initiative proposed by the Greens was to convene a Communications Committee following each Full Council meeting, to prepare official press releases about the work of the council.  This has taken a bit of time to ‘bed-in’, but is now a regular feature on the Town Council’s monthly agenda.

However, the real coup has been the agreement – at long last – for Glastonbury Town Council to officially enter the 21st century, and join Facebook!

Glastonbury Neighbourhood Project Facebook Page.

Glastonbury Neighbourhood Project Facebook Page.

We are delighted to announce the creation of official Facebook Pages for:

Glastonbury Town Council

Glastonbury Neighbourhood Plan

…and the formal adoption by the Council of the four Ward Groups!

St. Benedict’s Ward

St. Edmund’s Ward

St. John’s Ward

St. Mary’s Ward

Next stop… Twitter !

Neighbourhood Plan is launched!

Share your thoughts on Glastonbury’s future development (including St Dunstan’s House).
 GNP Banner2

Come and visit the exhibition at Glastonbury Town Hall on
Friday 14th October 6 pm – 9 pm and
Saturday 15th October 9.30 am – 2 pm

Refreshments available.

Glastonbury Neighbourhood Plan
Our Town – Our Community – Our Plan

Community invited to ‘Have Your Say’!

13th September 2016, Green Mayor invites Glastonbury’s community to ‘Have Your Say’ to the PCC.

13th September 2016, Green Mayor invites Glastonbury’s community to ‘Have Your Say’ to the PCC.

Dear Glastonbury community,
I have made arrangements to meet with Sue Mountstevens (the Police and Crime Commissioner for our area) in October – and would like to know what issues you feel should be raised with her about policing and crime in Glastonbury.
If you would like to share your thoughts and concerns, please send me an e-mail to jonfcousins@hotmail.com

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Cllr Jon Cousins
Mayor of Glastonbury

Glastonbury Council, St. Edmund’s Ward
Town Hall, Magdalene Street, Glastonbury,
Somerset. BA6 9EL
jonfcousins@hotmail.com

 

Vigil For Nagasaki

Lest We Forget…
As a member of the international movement ‘Mayors For Peace’, Glastonbury’s Green Mayor, Cllr. Jon Cousins invited the community to join him in a vigil at Glastonbury’s Peace Pole at 6.30 pm on 9th August to remember Nagasaki.

Cllr Cousins read a message from the Mayor of Nagasaki, which was followed by a Silent Minute.

Cllr. Jon Cousins at Glastonbury Peace Pole.

Cllr. Jon Cousins at Glastonbury Peace Pole.

At 6.50 pm, he welcomed all those present to accompany him to the Town Hall, where at 7.02 pm a Silent Minute took place in the Council Chamber at the start of the August meeting of Glastonbury Town Council.

Following the Silent Minute, a number of those present addressed the Town Council about Nagasaki, the horror of nuclear war, their opposition to Trident, and the positive message of Mayors For Peace.

– – – – – – – – – –

Nagasaki following

Nagasaki following the atomic bomb attack, 9th August 1945

On 9th August 1945, Nagasaki was the target of the world’s second atomic bomb attack at 11.02 am, when the north of the city was destroyed and an estimated 40,000 people were killed by the bomb nicknamed ‘Fat Man’.

According to statistics found within Nagasaki Peace Park, the death toll from the atomic bombing totalled 73,884, as well as another 74,909 injured, and another several hundred thousand diseased and dying due to fallout and other illness caused by radiation.

For more information about Mayors for Peace, please click HERE.