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Louth Area Committee: Parking And Restorative Justice

June 25th 2013

the jewellers on Eastgate

I arrived late and left early for the Louth Area Committee meeting on 24th June at the Town Hall, but the discussion I heard was dominated by concerns about car parking. Councillor Phil Sturman raised the issue of off-street parking, which has become a problem since the introduction of new charges.

Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders said "The residents are getting more and more annoyed by the parking in the street."

In the public forum, residents complained that the car parks are no longer being used, and that instead of parking in these, people are parking in the street.

Councillor Sarah Dodds, who chaired the meeting, said "People coming in to Louth should look carefully at the permits." At the moment these are 30 a month, 80 a quarter, or 200 a year for parking at Northgate (east), Kiln Lane or Newmarket car parks.

But Mick Foreman asked "Why would you get a permit when you can park free of charge at the side of the road?"

"The problem is of the district council's own making," said Councillor John Hough. "The centre of town is full. It's now become intolerable for residents."

According to James Gilbert, a review of charges is due in six months time. However that didn't go down too well with Councillor Leonard, who asserted that "six weeks would be too long. It's had a massive adverse effect on the town."

Councillor Sturman said "We've got to do it with evidence. On Wednesday the Chancellor is going to announce 11.5 billion of cuts to the public sector.

The mayor, David Wing, asked whether takings were down on parking. James Gilbert replied that the number of tickets issued had gone up in Louth. Janet Caulton raised the issue of enforcement. "There's no penalty for parking on double yellow," she said. Inspector Terry Ball, who I was surprised to see there, given the shocking events earlier in the day, explained that the police no longer have authority in this area, and that they are happy with this arrangement.

The new parking machines cost 3500 each, James Gilbert said in response to a question by Janet Caulton.

Restorative justice

The armed robbery earlier that day was on people's minds when it came to policing. "The teaching staff at Kidgate were phenomenal," said Councillor Dodds. Inspector Terry Ball also had praise for members of the public who acted quickly to assist them in their search for the offenders.

The police have since issued a statement about this. They have arrested three men in connection with the incident, all from the Grimsby area. The press release is here.

However, Inspector Ball was also keen to discuss restorative justice, and to explain more clearly what it means, and that it's not "an umbrella under which we hide crime statistics." The average incident takes nine and a quarter hours to deal with in the usual way, but with restorative justice just three hours is typical, of which 66% of the time is spent dealing with the victim. "Restorative justice is here to stay," he said.

Councillor Sue Locking recounted her experience of restorative justice, when she had been the victim of a crime. "I got a letter of apology," she said. This sounds fairly lenient, but the context of the offence involved someone spitting in her face. It's hard to judge whether that was proportionate without delving into the details of the case and whether the offender had to do anything else to make up for the crime.

Councillor George Horton asked whether records were kept.

"Every incident gets logged," Inspector Ball explained.

Speeding

Councillor Makinson-Sanders raised the issue of people speeding on St Bernard's Avenue, which Ken Allison had brought up in a recent town council meeting. Inspector Ball responded that "our reporting doesn't reflect what the public is telling us." He went on to emphasise the importance of the intelligence and information the police receive from the community.

Age UK

Philippa Hareson of Age UK spoke a little about this organisation's work in the area. She explained that their core funding had been cut. "It's a struggle."

Philippa outlined their role in bringing information and advice to people aged over 50, operating a domestic support scheme (a service they have to charge for), and running two charity shops in Louth. She sounded a note of warning about the difficult economic circumstances people are enduring, however.

"What's happening with older people is shocking. We are now finding cases becoming more complex."

As ever, it's all about the money, whether we're talking about parking, charity funding, or the upcoming library cuts.



 


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