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House Notes with Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 19, 2012

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POLITICIANS need humbling occasionally. I'm not talking about jungle TV again, but the surprise election of former senior Cheltenham police officer Martin Surl as Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner last week.

Martin was one of more than a dozen independents who defeated party political candidates across the UK, despite a system unhelpful to independents.

Voters sent a clear message that they don't want to politicise the police.

The lamentable turnout – only 16 per cent here and less nationwide – underlined doubts about the whole idea of electing police commissioners.

Martin's first task is to appoint yet another Chief Constable after temporary head Mick Matthews resigned only six months after Tony Melville, who lasted less than two years himself. At least Martin can show stability, recruit someone who will support the established Gloucestershire trend towards intelligent community-based policing and give the police the resources they urgently need to do the job.

Headline crime may be falling, but I seem to be hearing about more anti-social behaviour in Cheltenham lately. Congratulations Martin and good luck.

Highlights of the week:

Thursday: If you've never stroked a leather dodo, you have until tomorrow to visit the wonderful Gardens Gallery in Montpellier Gardens. The Open West is an important annual exhibition of the best in British contemporary art but the loss of the university's Pittville Studios left it temporarily homeless. Gloucester Cathedral has offered temporary sanctuary but next year the stunning new Cheltenham Art Gallery will welcome it home. For now, sample this year's winners in Montpellier.

Friday: Dropped in on Towergate Insurance, whose Cheltenham call centre was taking donations for Children in Need.

There was a pizza-powered party atmosphere, Pudsey bear was there and Towergate volunteers had come from as far afield as Maidstone and Leeds just to take part – which says a lot about the company as well as the cause. Well done all.

Saturday: Strolled casually into St Mark's Methodist Church in Gloucester Road to help them celebrate their transformed hall and back rooms.

Unfortunately I'd missed that it was a formal church service of rededication, complete with the mayor in his regalia and everyone in their Sunday best.

I wanted a miracle to switch my jeans for a smart suit, but I was told with a smile that God wouldn't mind. I knew what a friendly and welcoming community worships here but I appreciate it a little more now. And the new facilities are fabulous!

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  • Lecorche  |  November 19 2012, 10:51PM

    Now that I've had time to reflect on the PCC cobble up,some things have become apparent. This undemocratic result,besides never qualifying for a mandate due to too few people voting, was a stunt to find fall guys to blame for the forthcoming drastic cuts in funding for the police forces of our country. Next obvious conclusion is that the electorate have had a bellyful of the big parties thinking of themselves first,instead of the common man and woman who find it increasingly difficult to maintain a standard of living that is constantly eroded by cuts, taxes and the EU, I get the feeling that our political servants regard themselves as above reproach and any of us plebs don't know anything worthwhile when it comes down to creating a fair and safe society. You take our money and waste it. We are a rich country,by any standard. Why are there people who are hungry and/or homeless? Why are there Ex Soldiers who are worse off than criminals in jail? Why are there still MP's and Lords who still milk the tax-cow with larcenous claims? What's next? A Presidency of GB that can be bought in much the same way as a Prime Minister?

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  • Shireresident  |  November 19 2012, 9:46PM

    I thought the new police commissioner had no say in how much the coalition gives to local police forces. Last I heard it was a "get on with what you're given and lump it"scenario. This could account for the publics lack of enthusiasm for the entire silly American style project. Did Mr. Horwood support the introduction of these posts I wonder?

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