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Friday, June 23, 2006

Labour blunder into own goal scenario

This morning's Western Mail has more on Labour's gaffe on motorbike scrambling and tackling local yobs. It now transpires that the working relationship between police and council in Blaenau Gwent is in a "state of collapse" leading us all to the obvious question of 'if the leader of the Council and Labour Assembly candidate is so concerned then why has he not done something about it before?'

The newspaper says that the police are accusing the council, led by Labour candidate John Hopkins, of ducking its legal duty to tackle crime and disorder:

The revelation emerged in copies of a recent exchange of letters between Mr Hopkins, who hopes to win a place in the National Assembly next Thursday, and Inspector Iain Thomas of Gwent Police, who is stationed at Brynmawr.

Insp Thomas wrote to Mr Hopkins on June 15 after an article in the weekly Abergavenny Chronicle in which the council leader was quoted suggesting not enough was being done by the police to tackle local yobs.

Mr Hopkins called for a motorbike police unit to be established locally to chase anti-social youths. As we reported yesterday, the police say such a unit should be paid for by the council, although it has no plans to do so.

In his letter to Mr Hopkins, Insp Thomas stated, "The article was grossly misleading and painted a wholly inaccurate picture of Brynmawr.

"The biggest concern in Brynmawr is the fear of crime and this article could play a significant part in exacerbating this problem.

"The article makes no mention of the lack of partnership working within Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and the police, nor the concerns that I raised with you in January 2006. I am disappointed that action has yet to be taken to address these issues.

"I reiterate my belief that partnership working between the police and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council is in a state of collapse and that you are failing to implement Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act in an effective manner."

This is part of Labour's problem. They have run the Council in the Blaenau Gwent area for as long as anybody can remember, they have been in Government since 1997 and yet there are still huge social problems. They cannot pretend that none of this is their fault.

Tony Blair today has been leading the call for the legal system to put the victim first and yet his government has probably passed more pieces of legislation on crime and disorder than any before it. If he really believes this then why has he not done anything about it before?

For all their posturing, their attempts to label others as soft on crime and for all the measures passed through Parliament, Labour have failed to match their rhetoric on law and order. This latest embarrassment could well seal their fate in at least one of the two by-elections in Blaenau Gwent.
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