Gangs are not running riot in Littlehampton

The Littlehampton Gazette’s headline – “Police are not running this town – gangs are” is complete rubbish and nothing more than scaremongering.

Negative headlines sell newspapers and let’s be brutally honest here, the Littlehampton Gazette needs all the help it can to sell what is little more than a weekly advertorial rather than a readable, quality newspaper. The Press Gazette latest circulation figures for the Littlehampton Gazette, shows sales plummeting by  -7.9% on the previous year with circulation now at a paltry 8,988. Drastic times lead to desperate measures with the closure of the Gazette’s Littlehampton offices and a culling of the paper’s reporters.

The Gazette reporter who wrote this story doesn’t live in Littlehampton and could hardly be considered to know what’s really is going on here. Last week he attended the annual Littlehampton Town Council public meeting. I’ve mixed views on the benefits of this type of public meeting as invariably it’s little more than an opportunity for the public to vent at the local authorities, particularly the police.

When a number of years ago I attended the annual town council meeting, I came away wondering what the point of Littlehampton town council is, and indeed, still do. The meeting was dominated by a few vocal locals who complained about cycling on pavements and lack of police action in tackling this supposedly huge and dangerous problem. I left the meeting thinking if all you have to worry about is kids cycling on pavements, how lucky we are to have none of the real crime problems that plague other areas.

In any event, this year’s annual meeting led to one local business owner describing how 12 and 13-year-olds had run through his cafe and threw eggs and he’d witnessed drug dealing outside his business. He concluded by telling the police chief inspector present at the meeting, that in his view  ‘the police are not running this town, but gangs are.’

Cue Littlehampton Gazette, who used this quote as their paper’s front page screaming headline.

While I have sympathy with the business owner’s frustrations and do agree that Littlehampton currently has a small number of youths who are acting in a threatening and anti-social way, we’re still a  long way from the sort of youth gang culture that is destroying other local towns and particularly evident in areas of London.

Personally, I think it’s highly irresponsible of the Littlehampton Gazette to lead with such a negative, scaremongering headline, which I know has already put people off visiting the town centre.

We need to keep things in perspective.

Littlehampton needs a return to high visible proactive policing, which contrary to claims made by Police Commissioner Ms Katy Bourne and Sussex Police’s Chief Constable Giles York who describe bobbies on the beat as being an outdated policing method, bobbies on the beat do work.

The public is always reassured by high visible policing on our streets, which prevents anti-social behaviour. No app or twitter feed or social media platform can take away the important work done by bobbies on the beat.

But please, let’s not elevate these gobby little idiots to the undeserved status of gang leaders. Most of them would wet their nappies if someone were to shout back at them, as I’ve done on occasions when they have created a nuisance in and outside my shop.

 

Whatever the Gazette would like you to believe, Littlehampton remains a safe, welcoming town with the many hard-working, proud people who make our area such a great place to live.

Nothing better proves my point more than a picture of Littlehampton’s War Memorial above, which is lovingly attended to by the council’s contractors and demonstrates all this positive and wonderful about Littlehampton. Surely if gangs were ruling our town this amazing floral display would be impossible?

While we  need to keep pressure on local police management to ensure we get the support from our police and local authorities to ensure that  good and hard work of many is not undermined and destroyed by the few, lets not fall victim to the lousy scaremongering tactics of a newspaper who cut and ran from Littlehampton when their sales declined.


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West Sussex County Council boss accused of wasting tax payer’s money.

West Sussex County Council Chief Executive accused of wasting money by his own staff.

As residents and motorists fall foul of West Sussex Council’s (WSCC) appalling road conditions and are facing cuts to essential services including the fire service, WSCC chief executive has been criticised by a member of his own staff member for wasting money.

Chief Executive Officer, Nathan Elvery who enjoys a near £200,000 a year salary plus has introduced new lanyards for all West Sussex County Council staff at a cost of £3,288 to the suffering tax payer.

The new lanyards are printed with the council’s core values, which oddly doesn’t include any reference to West Sussex County Council. A female member of WSCC staff has questioned the usefulness of the new lanyards on the council’s internal discussion board writing: “Are customers supposed to guess that I work for WSCC as my lanyard doesn’t say I do? There are of course advantages to having the promises written down. It seems a great opportunity to have people stare at my chest, always a pleasure for me and also it does make me feel genuinely valued.”

The library assistant concludes she is: “thrilled to know that the finances at WSCC are now so improved that we can stretch to buying these for all staff, a great use of resources.”

WSCC’s Core Values are published on the council’s website as follows:

We have five core values, which are central to successfully achieving our vision and corporate plan priorities:

  • Proud to be customer-centred – we put the customer central to everything we do.

  • Listen and act upon – we listen to each other and act on what we say.

  • Honest and realistic – we are honest and realistic about what we can achieve.

  • Trust and support – we trust and support each other to achieve our goals.

  • Genuinely valued – we feel our contribution is valued and our achievements are recognised.


Clearly, under the council’s own Core Values, this member of staff’s comments on an internal council message board is in keeping with the above core values. She’s been honest in her opinions and her contribution should be valued and listened to. However, Nathan Elvery replies with all guns blazing accusing her of being ‘passive aggressive’ and being representative of what he describes as the ‘ugly under belly’ of the council’s organisational culture

In his reply to her on the same message board, he says: “The journey to changing our organisation has started and whilst I recognise for some this might present some individual challenges, this is a journey we will complete as an organisation. Many of our staff have embraced this change, I recognise some of our staff still require convincing and I recognise for some that this may not be a journey they want to be part of and therefore will not be with us at the end, but it is nonetheless this journey we will complete.”

Nathan Elvery’s reply leaves a lot to be desired. This bullying and belittling approach isn’t in keeping with the seniority of his role and can’t be helpful in motivating an already under-resourced staff.

He goes on to say:  “Thank you for reminding me how far we still have to go in tackling the ugly underbelly of our organisational culture. This ‘passive aggressive’ nature of our current culture has the potential to blind our organisation from the reality we face, the changes which must come about if our organisation is to be successful and indeed survive the challenges which local government faces today and embrace the opportunities which are evident for us to improve as one organisation.”

If anyone is demonstrating passive aggressiveness and ugliness in this bizarre exchange it’s Mr Elvery. Surely council staff don’t need to hang the council’s 5 core values around their neck where they rest precariously in between ladies breasts, or swing like car air fresheners in an airport taxi – to be aware of the council’s values?

And we the public don’t need to see nearly £4,000 of our hard earned taxes spent on what is nothing more than a useless PR exercise?

Come to think to of, why does WSCC need to pay their Mr Elvery £190,000 a year to come up with this nonsense.

Surely both Mr Elvery’s salary and his £4k lanyards would be better spent on addressing the appalling state of the council’s potholed roads?

As always, thank you for reading, your comments welcome below.