Cllr Matt Dent: "Southend deserves better than this"
Labour have criticised the Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, after a briefing session for councillors clashed with an important local police meeting.
The bimonthly Local Community Meeting (LCM) for the wards which make up the town centre was Monday evening at the Civic Centre, at the same time as Mr Hirst addressed councillors at the Tickfield Centre. Given recent incidents of violent crime in the town centre, Labour councillors have condemned the clash.
Cllr Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal and shadow portfolio holder for Public Protection, said, “It defies belief that whoever organised this meeting would have been unable to find out about the LCM. These are bimonthly meetings, with the date of the next meeting being agreed at the previous one, so I refuse to believe that the clash could not have been noticed.”
“As a councillor for a town centre ward, I was placed in the unenviable position of having to choose between lobbying the Police Commissioner for much needed extra resources in Southend, and hearing the views and feedback of my residents who are having to endure more and more incidents of violent crime in their community. Residents, naturally, come first so I was at the LCM, but the choice shouldn’t have to be made at all.”
“I’m forced to conclude that this must have been deliberate, to spare Mr Hirst’s blushes at being challenged over his failing police strategy in the town, illustrated by the fact that another knife crime incident occurred as Mr Hirst was in Southend. Southend deserves better than this.”