PARISH COUNCIL: At a meeting held on February 27 in the village hall nearly 100 members of the public were present to hear representatives of the police force give their opinions and advice on the question of the level of policing in Harvington. Chairman of the parish council, coun Dennis McKenzie opened by saying that in arranging this meeting, he had responded to numerous complaints from residents by writing to the chief constable asking about the possibility of having a senior police officer present when such complaints could be aired. He had been delighted to receive a prompt reply and now warmly welcomed Inspector Sharone Gibbons from Worcester who is presently in charge of policing in the Wychavon District. She was accompanied by Sergeant Paul Crumpton from Evesham and PC Roy Storr, the local beat manager. Coun McKenzie made it clear that his letter to the chief constable should not be seen as a criticism of the police, but said that the increasing number of disturbances, especially on the village green, had prompted such an outcry from members of the public that it had to be seen that some action was being taken. He had invited all the 11 people who had been directly affected by the disturbances to attend (sadly, only five were present) together with the chairman of the village hall committee, the chairman of the playing field committee, individuals who had agreed to be members of the proposed Community Safety Group and Neil Dunlop, the youth project leader. In her opening remarks, Inspector Gibbons spoke of the tension which exists between the younger and older generations and said that Harvington is not alone in experiencing this. Older people, she said, must accept that youngsters have a right to be there - this applying to the village hall and green and the street corners - but this does not mean they have a right to disrupt people's lives or damage property. It is the difficulty of keeping this balance which, with such a large area to cover and with limited resources, the police cannot undertake to do. They can, and will, deal with actual crime and the more serious cases of disorder but it is up to the community itself to solve the question of unruly and unacceptable behaviour. Could it be that the village lacks communal recreational facilities? Has this been seriously considered? What has been done to persuade the miscreants to congregate elsewhere? The male officers present reinforced this line of thought by citing Offenham as an example of what community action could achieve, with the setting up of a group which meets regularly to talk and listen to young and old alike - 'awareness' evenings where complaints are listened to and resolved in a mutually acceptable way. Lively discussion followed, the chairman of the village hall committee saying that he had no objection to the presence of the youths in the vicinity of the hall but he did object strongly to the damage they did, much of it (it seems) wilful. It means that the hall, which should be the village's prized asset, looks a mess and costs a lot of money and effort to keep in repair. In reply the police said that if they can be given names and evidence they will prosecute. The public were asked to keep the police informed - all incidents should be reported. Sergeant Crumpton admitted that communication between public and police had not, in the recent past, been easy, but a much more effective system is now in place which means that contact and response are to be much improved. (Tel 08457 444 888 PC Storr's ext 3423). Responding to the suggestion that the village should be considering improving facilities for youngsters, Roger Beard (chairman of the playing field committee) said that great strides had been made under the new management structure and plans are in place for considerable changes to be made. Football posts will be sited shortly; the field is to be made much more attractive, there will be dog litter bins, better footpaths, seats provided etc it was suggested by coun Joyce White that, with all this in prospect, surely it was not too much to ask the youngsters to be patient for a little while longer and give the village chance to show that its intentions are sound. Following further reference by Inspector Gibbons to Local Community Safety Groups being one way of resolving community problems, coun McKenzie said that last year Harvington had been asked by Mr Craney of Wychavon District Council to form such a group. Eight members were recruited (and were present at this meeting) but Mr Craney had so far not been to Harvington for an initial meeting. He had also been invited to attend on this occasion but was not present and neither was the officer who was taking over the job from him. Inspector Gibbons who had already spoken about the legal requirement on local authorities and police to work together on solving community problems, promised to follow this up. We shall await the result with interest, but meanwhile, it is clear that

r village community is expected to find some way of solving its own problems. The question was asked repeatedly: What are the parents of this handful of disruptive youngsters doing to help the rest of us? Why should it fall to the victims of bad behaviour and foul language to find a way of stopping it? A suggestion (made originally by chairman McKenzie in his letter to the Chief Constable) that two Special Constables be appointed was not regarded by the police as a likely proposition. They would have to be recruited in the village, the job is unpaid and duties would have to be performed in the volunteers' own time. It was felt that there was little likelihood of this appealing to anyone in this day and age.