Knowing of the interest that local residents have shown in the future of Aldridge Police Station I wanted to update you on my most recent engagement with Simon Foster, our new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) who was elected in May.
I was pleased to be able to meet virtually with Mr Foster, and I congratulated him on his new role. I also pressed him on the matter of our local police station, urging him to drop the previous PCC’s plan to close Aldridge Police Station. In setting out the arguments for this I included the strength of feeling locally on this matter.
Whilst the plan to close our Police Station remains on the table the new Commissioner has agreed that there should be a consultation. Although I welcome Mr Foster’s decision to consult, we all remember that the former Strategic Policing and Crime Board also agreed to consult, and no plan ever came forward. For this reason I will judge the decision taken by this Police and Crime Commissioner to consult the people of Aldridge by his actions.
Any consultation on the future of our local Police Station must be meaningful. It must be inclusive and must seek to ensure we retain a local police base on the eastern flank of the Walsall Borough. The residents and local businesses of Aldridge deserve to keep a local Police base and we need to retain a Police Station in the Village of Aldridge.
Turning to another issue which has kept us preoccupied locally – constituency boundaries. As many of you will be aware the Boundary Commission for England consulted over the summer about proposed changes to the Aldridge-Brownhills constituency.
Sadly, the Commission proposed splitting the Aldridge-Brownhills constituency in two and creating a new Walsall constituency and a new Bloxwich and Brownhills constituency.
Included within their proposal is the proposition of splitting the Village of Aldridge in half and placing Aldridge Central and South in the Walsall constituency and Aldridge North and Walsall Wood in the Bloxwich and Brownhills constituency.
I have opposed these proposals and I am grateful to everyone who sent submissions to the Boundary Commission for England and signed my petition to ‘Keep Aldridge Together’.
The initial consultation was the first stage of the process. The Boundary Commission for England will now consider the objections they have received and produce revised proposals early in 2022. I will of course continue to keep you all updated on this matter.
Meanwhile I would like to also update you that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has now passed all its stages in the House of Commons and is under consideration in the House of Lords. The proposed legislation will be of interest to residents’ across this constituency as it will provide new powers to deal with Unauthorised Traveller Encampments. Also contained within this legislation is the Government’s plan to create a new offence and an accompanying power for the police to seize property (including vehicles) to deal with the Unauthorised Encampments. The extent of the new law will make it an offence for a person to reside with a vehicle on land and fail to leave the land or remove their property without a reasonable excuse.
I believe it will help redress the balance, respecting the rights of the travelling community whilst also respecting the rights of residents.
In closing I would like to extend my continued thanks and appreciation to the members of Neighbourhood Watch for your continued commitment and work, in support of local residents and our local community, and in support of the work of our local Neighbourhood Police Teams. Thank you.
With my best wishes