Thursday, September 24, 2009

What Is Going On In Doncaster?

With a duff of the cap to JuliaM who has already written about this and linked back to the Express article I see that it is now being reported that the police have given up chasing criminals and are now proactively turning their attentions to broad surveillance activities.

To what do I refer?

South Yorkshire Police have issued warning letters that action may be taken against drivers if they leave anything visible in their vehicles. The force has set up a “safer neighbourhood team” that will go around looking into vehicles in the crime hotspots of Doncaster. If this crack unit of crime fighters should spot anything in open site on display in the car, such as a coat, a CD or a chocolate bar they are going to do the following.

1. Make a note of your car, by recording the number plate

2. Use the DVLA’s MOT database to find out yours and your insurers details –
           i. Presumably, they will check that you have an MOT and insurance and if not, expect some action.

3. They will then contact your insurer, to inform them that you have left items on view, which the Express concludes will lead to premiums skyrocketing and the invalidation of some people’s premiums.

What totalitarian tactics! What on earth would possess the police to set their resources towards a scheme of police survailance of innocent people. 

Words very nearly fail me…. or at least they nearly did.  Interestingly, there is a twist.

Doncaster has a Mayor, in fact a recently elected Mayor. His name is Peter Davies and he is an English Democrat, and he has sent shockwaves through the local community (and some national news outlets) when he was elected he immediately cut the Mayors salary from £73,000 to £30,000 and closed the Council’s own newspaper for peddling propaganda courtesy of the taxpayer. He pressed on and is seeking to cut the number of councillors from 63 to 21 in an effort to save a further £800,000. He has axed many of the Mayor’s other perks, including the chauffeur.

He has withdrawn Doncaster from the Local Government Association and the Local Government Information unit saving a further £200,000 and then made the following, almost legendary comment:

"Doncaster is in for some serious untwinning. We are twinned with probably nine other cities around the world and they are just for people to fly off and have a binge at the council’s expense".

With the savings, the Mayor wishes to pass on savings to the taxpayer, and improve local children’s services.

Like most of you, I am not overly familiar with the English Democrats, but, do the new Mayor’s actions indicate to you that he would be the architect of the plan to target and hurt law abiding car owners?  No, this scheme has the hall marks of an entirely different brand of politics.

I think it is clear that think the political drama in Doncaster that has unfurled in recent months has made the Mayor immediately unpopular with the established political classes locally and a few games are being played in retaliation; it is my guess this initiative did not come from the Mayor, but is politically aimed at him.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out – though I am glad I am not a car owning resident of Doncaster today.  As usual it is the law abiding person on the street and in their homes and cars that are the cheif vicims of others pursing political agenda's.


John M Ward said...

It all looks very good to the watching public, and indeed some of it is.

The number of councillors is certainly high (we are a full Unitary with a Cabinet model, with more than a quarter of a million residents, yet have just 55 councillors) but that reduction is too great for sensible boundaries and decent representation.

It looks more like the mayor doesn't wish to be so easily held to account and wants something nearer a personal dictatorship.

As for twinning, it can be very useful in a number of ways. The trick is to have a very small budget for it (which is what we do here in Medway) — that limits the jollies!

I don't know anything about this police wheeze in Doncaster,really lies behind it. In the meantime I am reserving judgement.

Tarquin said...

Isn't this a similar scheme to the one where the coppers pinch your stuff for your own safety? - I would hazard a guess this kind of policing is coming out of central, it won't be the mayor, the guy is very no-nonsense, it could be a plot I guess..

I would like to know the legal issues around this - such as why leaving a cd out should be a risk and if it affects your policy - seems an unreasonable expectation, pity the only story out there is in the express..

As for the English Dems, Dan - they're a good bunch, believe in an English parliament and are broadly democratic/conservative - considering they have some political recognition they could be the best choice for independents at the GE

North Northwester said...

Coppers work for the County, not the town, so this is South Yorkshire Police, and nothing to do with Doncaster's political leadership.
The mayor says some loony and ill-informed things - but his aren't Political Class loony and ill-informed things - and so the PC hates him.

An OK bunch, I'd say, with obvious faults, but Eurocentrism and racism don't seem to be amongst them.

Mark Brentano said...

I've had this intellectual itch for a while which I can't scratch. It says [if an itch can speak] something like this; the public sector [if you like, the provisional wing of government] is going to war with the public. What do they gain by this? Are they just trying to annoy Mail/Express readers, in a post-modern version of epater les bourgeoises? As Michael Caine says in Get Carter; Stroll on!