Town Council Round-Up: Homelessness Signs, Restorative Justice, And Traffic Surveys
January 7th 2015
The partially demolished ABM building
Homelessness signsCouncillor David Hall spoke in the public forum about the anti-homeless sign discovered on Sunday night at Trinity Church. The sign read: "Homeless Not Welcome."
"I thought this council should condemn whoever was putting those types of signs up," Councillor Hall said.
Town Clerk, Linda Blankley, informed the council that another notice had been posted outside the Sessions House. "The police have advised that they're aware of the notices," she said. "They're keeping a watch on it, but they're not treating it as any kind of hate crime at the moment."
Councillor George Horton said the signs were "fly posting, which is illegal."
The wording on the signs was "quite ambiguous," the Town Clerk said. "You could take it either way, that it was either pro-homeless or anti-homeless."
"Shouldn't the town council be condemning any sort of action like this?" Councillor Makinson-Sanders asked.
"I'm sure that goes without saying," the Mayor, Andrew Leonard, responded.
Councillor Margaret Ottaway said: "A lot of people who are homeless, well, not a lot but some, don't want to be anything else but."
"Nobody that is homeless chooses that kind of life," Councillor Laura Stephenson said.
Having read the text of a few of the other signs, I'd have to say it's a toss-up between malice and stupidity at work. The perpetrator either didn't think carefully about the effect the signs could have on anyone who is homeless, or they didn't care. In either case it's unhelpful.
DemolitionCouncillors then discussed the Malt Kiln's imminent demolition. "Am I the only councillor who feels they need some bereavement counselling over the loss of the Malt Kiln?" Councillor James Pocklington asked. He said he had "a mixed emotion" for a monument that had been there "all his life," although he didn't want to save it.
Councillor Makinson-Sanders brought up the perennial issue of dog fouling, saying: "There seems to be a huge amount of dog muck on the streets." She suggested asking for more posters to be put up. Councillor David Wing recalled a conversation he had had about dog fouling: "It was mooted that anybody with authority finding a person walking a dog, if they didn't carry a bag with them they would be fined £100. And I thought, what a good idea."
In a world of infinite police resources and universal free ponies, it might even be possible.
Restorative JusticeRestorative justice co-ordinators Paul Wright and Frances Smith gave a presentation on the programme that links victims of crime with the offenders who have hurt them.
"It is the opportunity for somebody who has been hurt to tell the person who did the hurting how they feel about it," Frances Smith explained. She described some of the circumstances in which it's used, from smaller, more minor incidents, to use on criminals within the prison service years after the original offence. "We have the responsibility to make sure every victim we can has at least the chance at looking at that happening for them."
Paul Wright provided some statistics. 1176 incidents were dealt with through restorative justice in Lincolnshire between 1st April 2014 and 5th January 2015. "We expect 1700 Restorative Resolutions to take place this year in Lincolnshire." A Restorative Resolution is when the offence is dealt with immediately through this method, and it doesn't go to court.
Frances Smith elaborated on serious cases where restorative justice is also used. "It can be quite healing, but always for the victim," she said. "The purpose is to give that victim healing."
"It reduces re-offending by 14%," Paul Wright said. Nationally, he claimed 85% of victims were satisfied with the outcome, which rises to 92% in Lincolnshire. "It helps a lot of people and it puts the victim first," he said.
Restorative justice can't be used for cases involving sex crimes or domestic abuse. Community conferencing, pre-sentence and post-sentence actions run alongside any court process and don't interfere with them. Paul Wright answered some common criticisms about it. "Generally it is not a soft option," Mr Wright said. "I hope it's policing on the cheap. It isn't going to meet everybody's needs, but it does meet a lot of people's."
"Some people on their first offence can be helped to stop committing a crime again," Councillor Stephenson said. She told the co-ordinators "I am right behind what you're doing."
Councillor Fran Treanor asked whether the crimes dealt with through restorative resolution are still recorded. "If detected, absolutely," Ms Smith said.
Councillor Pauline Watson was critical, saying: "I feel you're making the perpetrator seek forgiveness." Giving the example of murder, she said: "I don't think you should expect the victim to forgive."
"We are being cut back and cut back. We are one of the most underfunded, if not the most underfunded police forces in the country," Councillor Horton said. "I would have thought money would have been better spent by putting police on the streets."
"The cost of this entire process is myself and Fran's wages," Paul Watson responded. "That would not put one policeman on the streets... If we can deter someone from re-offending further on... then that is a huge saving on taxpayer's money."
Councillor Andrew Austin queried the effect of tight funding on cash-strapped forces. He expressed concerns that "a proliferation of trying to either make money or save money can engender a culture of... overly using something."
"It's not a panacea,"" Frances Smith said. "It's not right for everyone."
The mediation service uses volunteers, which explains why it can be a cheaper.
Town Clerk's reportThe Town Clerk reported that there will be a display about the forthcoming flood alleviation scheme which is due to start in 2015. This display will be from 2nd to the 6th of February, at a venue to be confirmed.
A couple of traffic surveys took place, on Legbourne Road and Kenwick Road, to assess the typical speed cars took along those routes. "Neither met the criteria for having either fixed or mobile speed camera enforcement," the Clerk said.
The speed on Legbourne Road averaged 41mph during a five day period at the end of November, when a total of 30,000 vehicles travelled along the Legbourne Road. 11000 vehicles were surveyed on Kenwick Road during seven days in June, averaging 30.6mph.
"They didn't want a camera," Councillor Makinson-Sanders said, referring to the residents who had requested the speed survey. "They wanted to cross the road safely."
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