By George Deacon
Mr Murphy, Tory leader of Norfolk County Council, stood in front of BBC’s Look East Camera’s and said he welcomed the lobby by students from Norwich City College against cuts to their travel subsidy.
Suggesting that perhaps a deal had been struck or that in fact the Tory’s never intended to go through with the cuts (now listening) Mr Murphy beamed into the camera and was seen shaking the hand of deputy leader of City College Student Union (Tom Hollick). What neither the benevolent figure of Mr Murphy nor the presenter of BBC Look East mentioned was that the ‘riot police’ were laying in wait in the City Hall Car Park.
It appears then that the political classes who regularly draw a stipend from the County coffers were happy to spend vital moneys from the public purse in barracking the local constabulary, kitted out in the latest riot gear and equipment, rather than pay the travel costs of working class students currently studying at Norwich City College. Further, happy to stand as he was in front of the cameras of the BBC, Mr Murphy had in fact prepared a rude awakening for the skulls of the young men and women, forced as they were, to line up in a field in front of County Hall. Such then is the scant regard Mr Murphy and his class hold for the sons and daughters of working class men and women of Norfolk. Not to be out done in this cynical act, neither Norfolk Constabulary nor the BBC itself have, it appears, any conscience over the role they are being asked to play by colluding with the political class at County Hall, by first being present and then failing to make known what had been prepared.
Rather than congratulate ourselves and the students who were on that march yesterday, for a job well done, we should cast a wary eye over what was narrowly avoided. The real story yesterday was that the Tory’s had prepared for all eventualities and were prepared to use the ‘riot police’ against innocent young people legitimately lobbying their local County Council.
If the ‘riot police’ had been used against these defenceless students what would Mr Murphy, the Norfolk Constabulary and the BBC be saying today? Instead of what they should be doing today, condemning the Tory leader of Norfolk County Council for cynically attempting to use a lobby of 16-18 year olds in a cheap publicity stunt for political advantage they would no doubt be crying crocodile tears for the death of a working class son or daughter who happened to have placed their head in front of a fully equipped mature adult wielding a truncheon.
We should reflect on this for one reason and one reason alone. Whatever sops the political classes come up with, as they nakedly jostle to buy popular support, one thing is clear: In the changed world of 2010 the Tory party are determined to carry through the most vicious attack on the living standards of the working class by any means necessary and that includes breaking the skulls of young innocent sons and daughters of Norfolk.
Yesterdays events at County Hall was a wake up call – if one was needed. The time for argument has passed and now is the time to act. The unions must call for united industrial action that is linked to a call for a general strike. The TUC has called a national demonstration for March 2011 (23rd) but for many workers faced with cuts in jobs and services that will be to late. We need action now. The students have shown the way and are in the front line but they must not be left to stand there alone. Wherever the students march the unions must march too. When the students take action and occupy workplaces and public spaces then we must join them and support them too.
Cambridge students recently ended an 11 day occupation of Cambridge University and the Guildhall facing down not only the cowardly condemnation by the local Libdem MP (Huppert) but also an attempted siege by the police. They did this by linking their fight against tuition fees with that of the fight of the lecturers and academics. They also linked their struggle with the wider fight in society against the cuts. Without this support and approach the occupation could not have last 11 hours let alone 11days. In taking direct action the students acted like a lighting rod, drawing to it, the anger that exists in society while laying the basis for future action that will be better organised and more effective than before.
We have lessons to learn and we must learn them quick. Above all we must not fight alone nor must we underestimate our enemy and their determination to carry through theses attacks.
Unite and fight and drive this government from office now!
Protest Statement From A Norwich City Action At Vodafone Today.
Corporate tax evasion/avoidance, I don’t pretend to remember which is legal and what loopholes make it so, is costing us our services. Last week ‘The Browne Report’ detailed billions of pounds worth of suggested cuts to the front line of public services affecting, for example; doctors, nurses, cleaning staff and specialists, special educational needs departments and classroom assistants. Right here in Norfolk ‘meals on wheels’ schemes were scrapped today plus there are the ongoing battles to save the day-care centres for the elderly, and now the centres for the deaf, blind, deaf-blind and disabled are all in the firing line. Also facing cuts are rural bus and train services, many people’s only transport link to the wider world. Not to mention the cuts to the Fire Service, youth working groups such as Connexions, and three thousand local jobs, all being the tip of the ice-berg. We are angry.
Vodafone have managed to swindle £6bn in unpaid taxes this year, which George Osbourne has happily written off.
So today a bizarre assortment of students, subcultural-stereotypes, community activists and revolutionaries stood outside Vodafone on St. Stephens St. and let the public know exactly what was causing them their considerable grievances. They were met with a healthy mix of sarcasm, anger, apathy, confusion, virulent support, back-slapping, knowing nods as well a series of follow up questions and a few pledges of solidarity. Within half an hour over 500 leaflets had been distributed and the shop effectively closed as staff locked the doors and released their small amount of customers back onto the high street. We stayed and continued to spread the word asking shoppers “Why should we be expected to pay our taxes when they won’t pay theirs?”
After another short while the police inevitably turned up and claimed they had reports of harassment from the public only seconds after having told us it was driving past us that had alerted them to our presence. When asked if they knew what cuts the Norfolk Constabulary were facing they said they would not be drawn into political arguments then proceeded to debate the finer points of free speech with us. The cops assured us that free speech only applied if in-audible to anyone over around four feet away from the speaker, ignoring the rights of street preachers and buskers to pollute our ears with whatever drivel they like at nearly any volume.
We assured them we’d be back tomorrow with more leaflets so we wouldn’t need to shout anymore. See you on St. Stephens.
The Norfolk Justice For Ian Tomlinson Family Campaign will be holding their second monthly picket outside Bethel Street Police Station tomorrow at noon (Sat 21st August).
They request everyone be aware this is a peaceful vigil to show solidarity with the Tomlinson family and people and their banners should reflect said fact.
The Norwich ‘Justice For Ian Tomlinson Family’ Benefit Day website can be found here http://www.justiceforthetomlinsonsday.org.uk/
See you there.
No longer do Norfolk residents need to actually ever see a police officer in the flesh to report crime or seek advice.
Apparently it’s now going to be easier to keep in touch with your local police officers thanks to a newly-launched community messaging system…other wise known as text messaging, an initiative being launched across the country.
According to Norwich Evening News
For the first time people can sign-up to be sent information on crimes, safety advice, Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) meetings and successful convictions relevant to their town or village in whatever format they wish – be it via email, over the telephone, texts on your mobile or through the fax machine.
The system, called Police Direct, was unveiled yesterday and is being hailed by police chiefs as a way of increasing the force’s communication with residents and encouraging more people to report crimes, while also driving down costs.
Norfolk Constabulary must find £1.4m in savings by the end of this financial year and £24m over the next three years.
Meet Sgt. Mark Woodward from Gloucestershire Constabulary explaining the Police SMS texting service and how it works….
WE DO HOPE THEY DON’T RUN OUT OF CREDIT…..
Norfolk police spent more than £10,000 on a rebranding that saw its motto change from “Keeping Norfolk Safe” to “Our Priority is You”, documents reveal.
The new motto was introduced as part of “the drive to be more customer-focused” and to put “the public at the heart of all we do”, according to its response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Campaign for Plain English criticised the change and the money spent on it, but the force maintains that the new black-and-white corporate identity reflects a “professional, efficient and modern police force” and is cheaper to reproduce and more environmentally-friendly than a colour logo.
The force is one of more than 200 bodies, including councils, fire brigades and Whitehall departments to have replaced their mottos in the past five years, according to research by a Sunday newspaper.
The new logo and motto were introduced in April 2008 as part of a major modernisation programme. Developing and designing the new corporate identity cost £2,995 and production and printing came to £945.
Rebranding all 280 of the force’s vehicles with the new logo will cost an estimated £6,762.30. “No additional budget is being made available for this – it is being absorbed within the standard fleet budget,” the force said.It said the “refreshed identity” was being phased in on a “replacement as required” basis and incorporated into scheduled repair and replacement work to avoid unnecessary cost
Marie Clair, spokesman for the Campaign for Plain English said: “Who decided that ‘Keeping Norfolk Safe’ was no longer relevant to the police? Why change it to a blanket statement? ‘Our Priority is You’ could apply to any organisation.
“How is that actually improving the service they are providing? Where could the £10,000 it cost have been spent to make some really constructive differences?
“We all need information but surely at a time of public cuts it’s absolutely essential that it’s about clear informa-tion rather than luxury statements.
“We want our public services to do what they do best: serve the public. We want the boys in blue to stop giving us the blue-chip lingo.”
In a statement, a force spokesman said: “Norfolk Constabulary has gone through a radical transformation of its structure and working practices in order to serve the public better.
“It was appropriate to replace a coloured crest that was costly to reproduce with a monochrome version and strapline that reflects the force’s determination to put the public, its customers, first.
“This was achieved in the most cost-effective way possible with the use of an additional grant from the Home Office to use in the communications campaign to promote local policing teams, specifically, ‘A name in every neighbourhood.’”
Other bodies to have changed their motto include Breckland Council, which added the strapline “A better place, a brighter future” to its logo in 2005 to “highlight our vision for the district”.
Graphic design work cost £479, but there were no additional costs other than officer time. Stationery and documents were changed as supplies of the old versions ran out.
“There are currently no plans to change the design in the future”, said Rob Leigh, assistant director of communications and communities.
Waveney District Council adopted a “revised vision” to “Make Waveney a great place for anyone to grow up, live, work and visit” in September last year.
Communication manager Phil Harris said: “We wanted it to be value for money. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on consultants but also we wanted to dovetail with the Suffolk vision as well as the Waveney Sustainable Communities Strategy.”
Great Yarmouth Borough Council adopted the mission statement “Provide excellent services that are accessible, responsive and sustainable to ensure Great Yarmouth is a healthy and vibrant place to live, work and visit” in 2008.
“There was no cost in creating the mission statement, apart from officer time. No consultants were used and no signs or stationery needed changing,” it said.
Norfolk Community Action Group will be holding a dignified vigil outside Norwich Bethel Street Police Station in solidarity with the family of Ian Tomlinson on Saturday the 24th at 12 noon.
The despicable decision by the Director Of Public Prosecutions to bring not one charge against the police officer who attacked Ian Tomlinson in London while walking home from work, must be fought against.
We support fully the Tomlinson family campaign and the following statement by Inquest
“Today’s decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to bring any criminal charges over the death of Ian Tomlinson follows a line of previous decisions when police conduct has resulted in death or serious injury and no charges were brought.
Ian Tomlinson died on 1 April 2009 in the context of a heavily-policed and high profile demonstration that generated significant public interest. The failure of the Independent Police Complaints Commission to initiate an independent investigation until seven days after the death, on 8 April 2009, led to the potential for the loss, suppression and/or distortion of crucial forensic evidence in the ‘golden hours’ following Mr Tomlinson’s death. This repeats a pattern in previous contentious deaths following police contact where the death has not been treated from the outset as a potential homicide. INQUEST believes there should be an inquiry into the role of the City of London Police, the coroner, the pathologist and the IPCC, who have all played a part in ensuring no charges were able to be brought.”
How many more ordinary working people going about their daily business must die at the hands of the police and the police officers responsible are found to be immune from any prosecution?
Norfolk Community Action Group call on all well-wishers of the Tomlinson family and all Norwich groups and Trade Union branches along to show their solidarity in what we plan to be an escalating and uniting campaign until justice is finally won.
While Norfolk Police monitor ‘a legal bid launched by officers from another force’ in respect of a TETRA mast allegedly causing illness in Lancashire, we know it’s not with the local people of North Walsham in mind but rather to cover their sorry backsides from any up coming legal claims they may get…
Are Radios Making Norfolk Police Officers Sick?
Norfolk police are monitoring a legal bid launched by officers from another force, who claim their radios are making them sick.
There have long been fears that the TETRA Airwave radio system, operated by forces across the UK, has health implications for those who are frequently exposed to the technology.
When it was first introduced in Norfolk in 2004, with the intention of eliminating areas of poor coverage, concerns were expressed that it could harm officers and that the transmissions from its masts could have wider implications for the general public.
Now Norfolk Police Federation has said it would watch to progress of a law suit filed by officers from Lancashire. Lancashire Police Authority confirmed it has instructed solicitors to act for them over a raft of compensation claims.
It is understood several claims are pending against the force and the suppliers of the controversial Airwave equipment have since made changes to prevent “audio anomalies”.
David Benfield, general secretary of the Norfolk Police Federation, said: “There were a lot of concerns about this when the radios were first introduced. There have been various suggestions made by officers about the impact this has had on their health.
“At present I am not aware of any claims being lodged by officers from this force, but if the Lancashire cases are successful, we will no doubt find those concerns resurfacing in Norfolk.”
Norfolk police is also participating in the Airwave health monitoring study. This is a long-term study which aims to establish what, if any, impact the technology has on officers’ health. Most police forces nationwide are taking part.
Police spokesman Harry Mitchell said: “We are taking part in the national Airwave health monitoring study – a long term scientific-based study commissioned by Home Office and conducted by Imperial College, London.
“Officers and police staff are invited to take part in the study, which includes a free health screening session.”
In recent years there has been controversy over an O2 Airwaves communications mast on top of North Walsham police station, which locals fear could cause long-term health problems.
After recent revelations about the ridiculously high relocations packages Norfolk Police Authority are willing to spend on Chief Constables, we are of the opinion that Norfolk Constabulary should step back and focus…….before the locals notice something going on!
Norfolk police ‘need more cash’
Norfolk police’s share of council tax must increase by 3.5pc next year if the force is to maintain its current performance, a meeting heard last night.
Speaking at a public meeting at the force’s Wymondham headquarters police authority chairman Stephen Bett outlined how the force is already planning to save £15m over the next three years as it faces a “dire” financial situation.
He added that whichever party won the next general election would inevitably make substantial cuts to police and public spending in general.
“Once a new government is in power it is going to be quite frightening how little money there is to go around,” Mr Bett said.
But deputy chief constable Ian Learmonth, currently in temporary charge of the force, pledged that the county’s increased number of police officers – which currently stands at 1,644 – can be maintained for at least one more year.
He added: “We cannot gaurantee we can maintain these numbers indefinitely but, at a time when some forces are considering cutting numbers, we can maintain our existing level of officers and police community support officers.”
The 3.5pc proposed increase would equate to £5.05 a year for a Band B property or £6.51 per year for those in Band D.
John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, asked what would happen if the police precept was set one or two percent lower than the level suggested.
Chief financial officer Rupert Birtles said that the very minimum needed to “stand still” was 3pc and if it were set lower there may be a need to “touch the frontline” although current officer numbers would still be sustainable in the short-term.
Every 1pc of the police’s council tax precept is equivalent to £550,000 in the force’s budget. At 3.5pc the force would be able to continue its modernisation while also looking at ways it can become more efficient.
The police authority will make a formal decision on its council tax precept over the coming months.
Below the EDP reports on the line-up of the next Chief Constable of Norfolk ‘contestants’. As three of them are currently not residing in Norfolk we will be paying a massive relocation fee as well as stamp duty on their new luxury abodes from our council tax.
Outgoing Chief Constable Ian McPherson has creamed his off the top of the cake and is moving on to bakery’s new…courtesy of the Met in London.
We did approach Norfolk Constabulary and the Police Authority on how they justify the waste of money but they declined to reply…
Favourite quote of the piece?
Police authority chairman Stephen Bett said that although stability was important, the authority was prepared to appoint another ambitious candidate even if that meant they may follow Mr McPherson’s lead by leaving the force within a matter of years.
Cuts in public services? We could start right here!
New Year, new chief constable for Norfolk police – and today the EDP reveals the full shortlist of candidates for the force’s top job.
Interviews for the £134,000 post will take place on January 18 and 19. Outgoing chief Ian McPherson will begin his new role as assistant commissioner of territorial policing at the Metropolitan police on his return for the Christmas break and his replacement will be announced within three weeks.
Norfolk Police Authority has been given permission to interview four candidates for the post by the senior appointments panel. They are:
Current deputy chief constable Ian Learmonth who is in temporary charge of the force. He has risen through the ranks and takes a keen interest in operational policing. Mr Learmonth has played a key role in Norfolk police’s modernisation programme since joining in 2007 from Strathclyde police where he was assistant chief responsible for most major operational projects.
He is the popular choice among the rank and file and could bring the stability the force is seeking. Privately police sources say he will need to prove his ability to step up to the more politicised top job.
Adrian Leppard, the present deputy chief constable at Kent police. He is responsible for operational policing and has a number of corporate development duties including “change management” which would equip him well for any further modernisation in Norfolk.
He has filled a variety of roles from traffic policing to CID and has also led a number of major inquiries including high profile murders..
Janet Williams, currently deputy assistant commissioner at the Met in the specialist crime directorate which oversees major crime in the capital including murder, drugs, covert policing and shooting.
She had previously been in the running for the chief constable vacancy in Merseyside but dropped out of the running to focus on the Norfolk role. Ms Williams already has a home in Norfolk and her mother lives in the county.
Philip Gormley, currently deputy chief constable at West Midlands police. He began his career at Thames Valley police and moved to the Met in 2003 on promotion to commander.
He has experience in modernisation which could be crucial in Norfolk having led the restructuring of specialist operations at the Met. He also took command of the Met special branch, overseeing the merger of special branch and the anti terrorist branch to form the new counter terrorism command.
Police authority chairman Stephen Bett said that although stability was important, the authority was prepared to appoint another ambitious candidate even if that meant they may follow Mr McPherson’s lead by leaving the force within a matter of years.
Mr Bett added: “Ian McPherson achieved more in three years than many would have in a decade; if we can find a similarly ambitious replacement who can achieve that kind of success then we won’t hesitate to appoint them.
“We are not looking for somebody who will come here to see their time out. We are facing tough times and we need somebody who can take on the challenge.” source
It’s nice to know that a ‘public service’ who believe themselves to be anything other than a ‘public service’, and who milk our taxes and pay their bureacrats a fortune in incentives, whilst never being on hand in an emergency unless you live on the posh side of town, have finally been given the ‘freedom of the city’ of Norwich.
Perhaps we’re missing something here Councillor Morphew. We’re glad you all get on so well, public opinion however reckons the lot of you are overpaid, and quite simply…useless.
But pat yourselves on the back why don’t you.
Norfolk Constabulary was granted the honorary freedom of Norwich at a ceremony on Friday night.
Councillors voted to confer the honour in recognition of the force’s “historic ties with Norwich and to mark their continuing contribution to the city”.
The title has been awarded fewer than 40 times since 1887.
Chief Constable Ian McPherson said the force and the city had an “unbreakable bond” and the lion of Norwich was worn by all officers on their uniforms.
Mr McPherson said: “Policing in Norfolk is woven into the very fabric of Norwich life and it has been so since 1836 – a proud heritage depicting devotion and loyalty to public service where the community comes first.”
Council leader Steve Morphew, who proposed the motion, said: “Over time the relationships between the city council and our police have become much closer.
“It is fitting we recognise the past, present and changing future for the relationship between the police and the city by honouring those who serve us so well.”
As the seriousness of county council cuts slowly emerge, we thought we’d get in touch with the Norfolk Police Authority who seem to throw our council taxes around like they’d won the lottery.
Especially in mind is the amount of money thrown at the outgoing Chief Constable of Norfolk Ian McPherson. Full story on that little number can be found here.
Obviously if we do get some sort of reply we’ll post it here….but let’s not hold our breath!