Councillor Kim Groves represents the people of Belle Isle and Middleton, where she lives with her family. As a Councillor, she works with the following external bodies within South Leeds:
- Hunslet Hawks RLFC
- ALMO (Aire Valley Homes)
- Beeston, Cottingley and Middleton Schools Cluster
- Community Links
- Middleton Elderly Aid
I was honoured to have the opportunity to sit with, and listen to, Councillor Groves before daring to be a Jeremy Paxton mini-me and throw questions at her. Unfortunately for me and fortunately for her, time was a limiting factor with us as we all can tell from her list of responsibilities that she has a very busy schedule. Nonetheless, Councillor Groves had been kind enough to honour our invitation was kind enough to listen to the questions that our group had as individual constituents.
Did we get the responses that we had been hoping for? I will leave that for you to speculate.
I am not only a South Leeds, Middleton constituent; I have a keen interest in issues and matters that concern my day to day life. These can be community or personal issues. On this occasion, I had prepared a shopping list of concerns for Councillor Groves, but time would only allow me to squeeze in just one: safety and security in the neighbourhood.
Being the voice that had the chance to be heard, I mentioned to Councillor Groves the general safety concern over speeding drivers and criminal damage to property and cars. I echoed residents’ concern that requests have been made to the council in the past to have speed humps on the streets in question but nothing has been done to date. I also asked her to elaborate on why the police have a tendency to ask whether there are CCTV cameras in the areas of concern. Would they not be able to tell the areas that have CCTV cameras and those that do not?
On this, Councillor Groves was quick to confirm that the matter of speed humps was already being looked into although there is also a general consensus that residents were or rather, are against speed humps as these cause damage to cars. Going forward, the council relies on statics held as to the fatalities recorded in the areas concerned. At the moment, there is evidently little data to reflect a great deal of concern.
On CCTV cameras, these are also installed in response to an increase in the crime rate in an area.
Folks, what this means to you and I is that low-level crime is not a priority, or it is very low priority. I cannot help convincing myself that this decision is reached after consideration of the resources that are available to the authorities. This is the position that the local authority has taken. Now since you and I still have concerns, the responsibility has now been placed upon us to be pro-active rather than re-active. We have to build a clear picture of the concerns that we have around our safety and security. The more reports that the police receive, the bigger and clearer the picture; the more complaints that landlords get, the bigger and clearer the picture to effect change.
- Rather than wait until some reckless driver knocks down your fence or wall, why not raise an alarm with the police beforehand?
- Rather than waiting for a prank to be pulled on you, why not raise an alarm when you see it being pulled on someone else?
- There is no crime that is small: a crime is a crime. In the same way, a hazard is a hazard, no matter the magnitude
- Unacceptable behaviour remains just that regardless of who did it.
- I am aware that sometimes the police will brush you off telling you that you have reported a minor issue. They sometimes even go a step further and caution you against wasting police time. The worst I have heard is when the police make you believe that they have logged your complaint until you realise that nothing is being done about it. Please do not let this put you off.
Open condemnation of the wrong is not a sign of weakness. It is not “grassing” as some would put it. Rather, it is exercising a sense of responsibility and improving the community we live in. That, to me is a quality of strength.
So, did I get the response that I needed from Councillor Groves? Not exactly, but the response she gave me has pushed me push you to start making the changes we want in our community. Councillor Groves or her successor will only help us to achieve what we want after we have initiated it.
Folks, what do we want for our community? Let us go and get it.
This article was written by Sithembile Moyo using our Community Reporters website