Morley Observer Column

Just like the primary schools across Morley, this week is ‘half term’ in parliament. In Westminster we call it ‘recess’ – and with no debates or votes happening in Parliament, I get chance to spend some extra time here in the constituency.

So on Friday I held one of my community coffee sessions – an opportunity for people to come along and share views on key issues.

This month we were in Robin Hood talking about policing and the challenges the force is facing: like elected police chiefs, the weakening of CRB checks and, of course, massive funding cuts about to hit our area.

One thing which struck me was the way people talk about Community Policing and PCSOs. Eight years ago, when we introduced PCSOs there was a lot of criticism. In the early days you would hear some people say PCSOs weren’t as good as ‘proper’ police officers and that they would be useless.

Now it’s a different story.

Most people are clear their PCSOs are part of the community. Because each PCSO team covers a specific area, they get to know the area and the trouble hotspots, and they attend meetings to hear local concerns.

I’ve seen it in action recently when one of our Morley PCSOs got in touch about Churwell Primary School. He is often at the school at 3.15 and, along with Head Teacher Mr Summers, felt something needed to be done about parents parking inconsiderately.

As Schools Secretary I visited hundreds of schools across the country, but the parking situation at Churwell – largely caused by parked cars blocking the narrow junction with busy Victoria Road – is one of the worst I’ve seen. You can sign our petition for action on the parking chaos at Churwell school here.

Last week, I got an officer from the Council’s Highways department to come and see it for himself. He couldn’t ignore all the parents who have already signed the petition, and has promised to look at options for making the road safer for children walking home from school.

I know we won’t have new traffic measures in place for when the kids return to school after this half term, but I hope that together we can find a sensible long term solution which encourages responsible behaviour.

And I hope the fact Leeds City Council has agreed to ensure funding continues for our local PCSOs means they will continue to pick up on these issues in our community and help us push for change for the better.

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Posted February 24th, 2011 by Ed's team