It appears that we have a new Police and Crime Commissioner, the Conservative candidate Matthew Scott. He was elected, if you can call it that, by a mere 20.98% of the population of Kent.
To put that into context will require some numbers, so bear with me. As of 2014, there were 1,510,400 people living in Kent. Only 266,806 people voted in the Kent PCC election. Matthew Scott received 104,558 votes, including the second count. That's less than the population of Thanet.
Over the centuries, people have fought and died for our right to vote. For me, voting is not just a right. It is a responsibility; an obligation. How can I possibly hold an opinion on the decisions made in government if I have not exercised my right to vote? By abstaining, I am forfeiting my own voice, and that is not acceptable to me.
I recently attended a town meeting, where various councillors, PCSOs, and other representatives held a panel to speak to members of the community. It was held in a school, so naturally I assumed it would be the assembly hall. In fact, it was in a classroom, and half the seats were empty.
Last time I checked, classrooms were designed to accommodate 30 children.
The main topics of discussion at this meeting seemed to be cars parking on both sides of the street near a school during pickup time at the end of the school day, youths playing on skateboards on the promenade, and lots of complaining about the lack of police presence on the streets. The PCSOs held their own, repeatedly explaining to those raising the issues that there are much more serious crimes occurring that the Police are needed for, there is only one PCSO per area, and resources are stretched due to budgets.
Those present did not seem to understand that a Police Officer does not just cost their salary – there is the equipment, training, vehicles – the actual amount to hire another Police Officer for Thanet would be huge. The Officers that are here try to use their resources as effectively as they can within the budget they have been assigned. Unfortunately, if people continue to complain about cars parking on both sides of the street, or kids hanging out and not causing trouble, then police resources will be stretched even thinner.
Perhaps the new Police and Crime Commissioner will manage to increase budgets and put more Officers on the streets, as appears to be the general public desire. That being said, I'm basing my research on the fifteen people present at the town meeting. Like the turnout for the PCC, it appears that they are the voice for us all.
If only the rest of us would speak up, perhaps someone would hear.
About Seb: When he is not writing guest posts for Thanet Star Seb Reilly
is a fiction writer and occasional musician from Thanet. Seb maintains a website at www.sebreilly.com