The last time I had the pleasure of writing the comments for the Parish Council was for the July edition, when I closed by wishing you all a wonderful summer. Weather wise, it was, but we did have some other problems, not least with crime.
It was at two levels. There was a stream of low-level criminal damage and anti-social behaviour which caused considerable distress and there was more serious criminal activity in a number of raids on the Co-op and Stop Shop. One of the raids on the Co-op involved the removal of the cash machine, which will not be replaced, and one of the raids on the Stop Shop, during opening hours, threatened staff.
Quite understandably, this crime spree led to widespread concern and some loss in confidence that cuts to the police budget meant a lack of police presence, difficulty in contacting the police and even more difficulty in getting a response.
It took a little time, but to give due credit to the Cambridge Constabulary once the scale of the problem became apparent the response was very positive. There was increased presence, much more rapid response and two public meetings, both very well attended.
At the second of these meetings on Saturday 1st December significant progress was reported. The meeting was attended by the Police and Crime Commissioner and our MP as well as our local police contacts.
We now have a quieter, calmer village. The kind of place in which we all wish to live. Whether or not that can be maintained long term is not certain. Inevitably, as the focus moves away from Willingham to other hot spots, we shall receive less attention. But we have established some very good contacts and made the point that Willingham residents care deeply about their village and the need to keep it safe.
One of the points raised by Sgt Priestly at the meeting was the positive support provided through the village Facebook page. As he pointed out social media can be an excellent tool for disseminating information when used correctly but users do need to be mindful that not all information posted may be correct.
Enough for now, but there will be more on this subject in the New Year when we take up some of the issues raised at our meetings.
Other Matters in Brief:
The precept for 2019/20 has been set at £123,275 which is a 2.8% increase on last year. I will deal with this in more detail in my annual report in May.
The parish office will be closed from the 21st of December through to the 1st January. If you have an urgent problem please call one of the councillors listed in Willingham News or on the website.
And finally, let me close this time on a similar note to last time by wishing you all a very happy New Year. My next contribution to Willingham News will be for the July 2019 edition by which time I am hopeful that we will have a new and younger Chairman with new ideas.
It has been a pleasure Chairing WPC on several occasions over the last ten years or so but definitely time to hand over to new blood. I do know that WPC works hard to deliver services, help and information in our village and understand that the efforts are not always appreciated. Our very hard worked parish clerk tells me that it is a good day when she gets less than three complaints. So be it, better three complaints than no comment.
With my best wishes – Phil King