Commissioner on a market walkabout

Mandate: Former PC Eric Taylor challenges Clive Grunshaw with statistics
Mandate: Former PC Eric Taylor challenges Clive Grunshaw with statistics

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw headed to Garstang - as part of his pledge to be a listening commissioner.

He visited the market and stepped into local businesses to talk to shopkeepers.

The tour came just days before he announced proposals to increase the police portion of the council tax by 5p per week to recruit 50 more front-line officers in Lancashire.

Noting the recurring theme in the town was support for the local police, he said: “Garstang doesn’t have major issues. It’s about a self supporting community - we have some good things going on in Garstang and we need to support them.”

Casting aside concerns about the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s inquiry into his expenses claims while a county councillor and Police Authority member, he said: “I’m looking forward to the conclusion of the investigation by the IPCC... just as soon as possible as far as I’m concerned.”

Mr Grunshaw said he had not repaid any expenses.

The meet and greet at Garstang market was the latest in a series of roadshows organised by the commissioner to enable him to hear what local people’s policing and crime priorities are prior to the drawing up of the county’s new Police and Crime Plan.

And shoppers and stallholders proved they were not shy about voicing their concerns.

Former policeman Eric Taylor, of Catterall, wanted to know what mandate Mr Grunshaw felt he had - considering the low 15.5 per cent turn-out at the Commissioner elections and his 39.28 per cent share of the vote coupled with a lack of direct experience of policing.

He asked: “What credibility does that give him when he’s dealing with a budget of millions of pounds?”

Mr Grunshaw said his job was to be the voice of the public in policing, adding: “People haven’t had the opportunity to have a direct influence on policy in the way they have now...Now is the time to show we can make a difference.”

Market trader Cally from Cally The Rug Stall said of the visit: “It’s a positive thing...but it’s sentencing that wants sorting.

“They are too lenient. If they’re given 10 years they should serve their sentence.”

Mr Grunshaw pledged the plan would not be a one size fits all affair instead plans will respond to local concerns and be tailored to each district’s needs.

He acknowledged the concerns about the future of Garstang Police Station and added 80 per cent of the police budget went on staffing costs and said it was important to keep staff on the frontline, meeting people in the community.

Mr Grunshaw has previously announced he will not stand again for the county council once his term as a Fleetwood East councillor ends.

He also plans to stand down from his position as a Wyre borough councillor in time for the May elections.

Mr Grunshaw will present his first budget to Lancashire’s Police and Crime Panel on Tuesday January 29. He will tell members that the 5p per week proposed council tax increase is the equivalent of £3.00 per year on a Band D property.