Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, yesterday chaired a meeting he organised for residents at Kennet Valley Free Church in Calcot to question members of Thames Valley Police on local issues of concern.
Joining Alok on the panel were Superintendent Jim Weems and Inspector Chris Ward from Thames Valley Police; and from West Berkshire Council, Rachael Wardell, Corporate Director for Communities, Susan Powell, Building Communities Together Team Manager and Alex O’Connor, Anti-Social Behaviour lead. Holybrook Parish Council representatives were also present, as well as the three West Berkshire Councillors for Calcot. Around 70 local residents attended.
Alok organised the meeting after receiving correspondence from local residents concerned about anti-social behaviour on the Fords Farm Estate following a spate of burglaries from cars, graffiti and fly-tipping earlier in the year.
Superintendent Jim Weems explained that whilst the number of burglaries across West Berkshire remain low overall, incidents have been increasing lately, but he reassured residents that the police have been taking action, with 5 recent arrests in the Calcot area. He also explained that burglar alarms continue to be efficient deterrents for protecting homes.
Susan Powell also explained how West Berkshire Council works with Thames Valley Police to tackle anti-social behaviour and make communities more resilient.
There were a number of concerns raised by attendees about drug dealing, noise nuisance from motorbikes and wrongful use of the bus lane. There were also concerns raised about litter in the local area. Holybrook Parish Council responded to concerns about litter by explaining that they have a budget for installing litter bins, and asked for local residents to send them requests for suitable locations. They also updated local residents about the steps they have taken to remove the graffiti from across Fords Farm Estate.
Finally, Inspector Chris Ward reiterated the importance of reporting crime and encouraged residents to sign up to Thames Valley Alert and join their local Neighbourhood Action Group which helps set the police priorities for the area.
Alok Sharma said: “This was a very constructive and informative meeting which enabled residents to raise concerns directly with the officers responsible for policing their local area. Having both the police as well as district and parish council representatives in the same place to answer questions was very helpful.”
Alok continued: “I have now formally written to Chief Constable Francis Habgood and Superintendent Jim Weems, Police Area Commander for West Berkshire at Thames Valley Police, and Nick Carter, Chief Executive at West Berkshire Council, regarding a number of points raised during the discussion, and I know both the Council and the police will be following up on a number of the individual issues raised. Many thanks to everyone who intended the meeting.”
Photos: Alok with panel and taking questions from the floor