Trying to Now I "do something"

Local police priorities // Development & Planning consultations // Gardening for wildlife // Party political campaigning

Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel (SNAP) Priority Setting Meeting

So the local police have a neighbourhood patrols department and they ask the public on what we want our police to focus on. They happen every quarter sometimes online, sometimes in person. I just emailed and asked to be put on the invite list and included my town.

This meeting had 14 people:

That made me the only member of the public in my area. When asked what crime I witness I said - honestly - that I don’t see any. I am safe walking at night and other than flytipping don’t hear about anything. “Well we have to prioritise something”

Two officers who patrol my area mentioned things reported to them. Teens on a building site and a driver doing donuts on a residential street. A councillor decided.

Much of the concerns were around antisocial behaviour and speeding. A speeding patrol on a college road resulted in only one speeding ticket. “Perhaps a perception issue. At least we had some good interactions with the students who asked a lot of questions.” I managed to keep drug dealing off the agenda for focus in one area.

With attendance like this you would only need a few friends to focus these patrols into an area you cared about, or even on a wild goose chase.

Perhaps next quarter I will request they look into street harassment. Or wage theft. No idea if they can/would do that.

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Local Development Planning Consultation

The council are doing a consultation on the next 15 years of municipal planning. What kind of person fills these out? Old people with free time? People with business interests? People who watch urbanism videos on youtube?

I have commented on four sections so far. There is a lot in there, not all of it I feel passionate about. Polite messages of support for more busses and less parking. Requesting that ‘green spaces’ requirements need more than just grass. Trees provide shade for our increasingly hot days.

No point sitting around complaining about local infrastructure when I have a chance to nudge it in a greener direction.

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Garden as wildlife oasis.

I was blessed to move into a house with a beautiful established garden. It is teeming with life, both plant and animal. I have a pond with newts and frogs. There are a dozen types of birds who visit.

This year I have a dog to reduce the cats’ visits and improved water quality in the pond. I can protect this little piece of habitat.The pond has many more frogs and newts this spring.

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Labour Party Campaigning

You wanna hear a secret? I joined the Labour party in 2019 because I liked Corbyn’s policies of making sure everyone has enough to live. And as much as I will laugh at jokes about Sir Kid Starver I still know they are a better potential government than another four years of Conservative power.

I’ve not done any party political activism before. Pretty much a couple of months after I joined Starmer took control and he didn’t energise me into anything. And I was living in a safe Labour seat. I since moved to a Conservative constituency.

Now we are waiting for an election announcement and I get an email from the local campaign coordinator asking for people to deliver leaflets. I sign up. I didn’t fancy the door knocking but the weather was getting nicer and trying to make a difference via having a walk sounds like a good deal.

I go to pick up some leaflet packs from the campaign office and manage to meet the coordinator for my town, the next town over, and our local candidate. They were all very friendly and excited to have the support of someone under the age of 60.

“We have a core group of wonderful older supporters, most of whom head home for dinner as soon as it hits 5pm.”

Some might think it is wrong of me - a person who believes in increased social support rather than increased criminalisation - to hand out a leaflet with a promise to get more bobbies on the beat. I don’t think it is. Very much a less of two evils. And getting involved in local politics may be a way to have the ear of my MP, if he gets in. That would be interesting.

And it is not just door knocking. There is phone banking. I have no issue making or taking phone calls so perhaps that is something I try to add into my routine.

I had a friend over for lunch and they said they and their parents were struggling to find a way to protest against climate change that felt safe, particularly in light of their disabilities and the increased over policing of climate protesters. Even this week the government is trying to make it illegal for MPs to even TALK to members of “extreme” campaign groups. Will that have to be another decision people make? I have only been to one small Strike for Climate protest. Would doing more put me on the naughty list?

The campaign coordinator had only one warning for me when leafleting. “Don’t insult the state of people’s driveways. There are a lot of video doorbells. Which is funny. When I don’t think about individuals are also contributing to mass surveillance.

Sometimes I hear people saying they cannot vote for any candidates due to their conflicting views on Trans Liberation, the ongoing Genocide in Gaza, the Climate Emergency, and many more vital issues. I respect that. They are following their conscience and I am following mine. Lesser of two evils.

Leafleting was alright. The weather was nice. I had been warned about video doorbell cameras and so I try to keep a vague smile on my face for the next two hours. I had made sure I looked nice and normal. I am in no rush and take my time. It is strange opening everyone’s gates and struggling with the stiffer hinges and draft excluders on some letter boxes.

I am embarrassed by the leaflets. Britain’s Future they declare with a full page union jack. I suppose a choice to appeal to the area. This has been a Conservative seat for years and 71% of Yarmouth voted for Brexit. They don’t feel like me. Flags are for when the football is on. But I'll keep going. This is doing something.

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