Where were the police when mindless vandals hurled skips full of rubbish into the river in Spalding?
Residents and members of local authority groups are seeking answers after the latest spate of vandalism in the town.
Just days before a public meeting of residents, landlords, council officials and other agencies with interests along the River Welland the main question being asked is, “Will a representative from the police turn up?”
Vandals removed two skips from Longs Wharf and Welland Mews in Double Street – blocks of flats owned by Longhurst and Havelok Homes which front on to the riverside path and cycleway.
One of the skips was seen blocking the path around 6.50pm on Wednesday, but by Thursday they had both been tipped into the river with the contents spilling out.
The Free Press met up with Coun Jack McLean, who has organised Friday’s public meeting with Coun Gary Taylor, as he was lifting the bags out of the river.
We haven’t seen anyone since Ins Jim Tyner came to say goodbye and that’s three meetings ago. It would be a useful meeting for the police to attend to find out what is going on in the townCoun George Aley, chairman of Spalding Town Forum
A resident said: “It’s getting worse down here. This means more dinner for the rats. I’ve already had one looking in at me from the windowsill.”
Other residents who live in the flats where the skips were stolen were equally unimpressed. One said: “Brilliant, I’ve got rubbish to take out so where do I put it now?”
Another said this was not the first time the skips had been taken.
She said: “I just don’t like going out at night anymore. Sometimes I come home and there are drinkers on my steps. We used to have PCSOs patrolling here but now I never see any.
“I’d move if I could but I can’t afford to.”
The public meeting is taking place on Friday at the Pennygate Foundation, 204 Pennygate, at 6pm.
Already representatives from South Holland District Council, Longhurst and the Environment Agency have confirmed they will attend, Coun McLean hopes the police will accept their invitation.
He said: “This is the first meeting and we want as many residents and members of different agencies to come along as possible. It’s not about us saying it’s all doom and gloom along the riverside in Spalding. We know there have been problems with anti-social behaviour but there is good news too – Lincolnshire County Council has finally painted the rails across the Holland Road footbridge and this has to give us hope.
”But the riverside is one of the main routes into Spalding and should be the jewel of the town’s crown. People should not be afraid to go out at night.”
Coun Taylor said: “We are not here to point the finger at anyone for not doing their job but this is an excellent opportunity for residents, landlords and other interested agencies, including the police, to come along and learn from each other, so we can make plans to take this forward next year.”
Coun George Aley, chairman of Spalding Town Forum, is also eager to see a representative of the police back in his meetings. In spite of being invited, the new Community Inspector Jo Reeves has so far failed to attend.
He said: “We haven’t seen anyone since Ins Jim Tyner came to say goodbye and that’s three meetings ago. It would be a useful meeting for the police to attend to find out what is going on in the town because, as well as councillors, there are members of the Chamber of Trade and other groups there.
“We wouldn’t mind if the police said they were too busy, but things are getting worse in the town. What are they doing?.”
Meanwhile, agencies and landlords are working out who is responsible for removing the bins from the river.
Alec Ambridge-Richardson, team leader with the Environment Agency, said: “We’re aware of the rubbish bins which have been thrown into the river, and we’re liaising with South Holland District Council to have these removed, as the council maintains this stretch of the river, keeping it tidy and looking after its amenity value.
“Everyone wants to see the River Welland in good condition, and to that end we look forward to getting involved in the conversation next week at the meeting with the district council and the community to give our feedback on potential options for improving it.”
However, South Holland District Council says the responsibility lies with Longhurst – and also confirmed its community safety officer no longer goes out on patrols with the police. A spokesman said: “A couple of landlords have put in wheeled bins for their residents to use and they arrange emptying as well. Responsibility for removal is with the bin owners/landlord.
”We have one 30-hour a week community safety officer but patrols are not part of her work.”
A spokesman for Longhurst and Havelok Homes said: “Our priority is always for the welfare of our residents and we take cases of ASB seriously. We understand there was an isolated incident where a bin was tipped into a nearby river, our neighbourhood team dealt with the case immediately. When cases are reported we work closely with residents, local communities and partners to resolve issues. If residents have any concerns they can contact us on 0800 1114013.”
Lincolnshire Police were asked for a response on two occasions on Friday but had not responded when this article was published to the website.