Tuesday 3rd July saw the community police meeting for Oban Lorn and the Isles held at Atlantis Leisure in Oban, chaired by Chief Inspector Brian Auld, with his second in command, Inspector Julie Mcleish, present alongside three local police constables.
Although the meeting had been well advertised, it attracted only 12 members of the public and two councillors, Fred Hall and Duncan MacIntyre.
These community meetings are held regularly in the two local wards covered by Strathclyde Police to get a feel for the major concerns of the public so that the police can prioritise and focus on regional strategies. (Details of all community consultations are available online at the Strathclyde Police website.)
Brian Auld started the meeting off by giving statistics of the two wards so that the audience could get a sense of the local issues that are of the greatest concern.
- In Oban South and the Isles, drunken disorder was top of the list, followed by assault, drug dealing and then speeding.
- For Oban North and Lorn, top priority was speeding, then drunken behaviour followed by drug dealing and assaults.
Members of the audience then raised and discussed recent and new issues that are of current concern. Interestingly, parking in Oban was the first topic up, although there seems to be huge amount of free but time limited parking in Tesco, Aldi and Lidl car parks, public concern was aimed at being able to park right next to shops and banks in the heart of the town. Worries focused ont the old and disabled not having to walk so far.
Councillors Hall and MacIntyre agreed that this issue was one for them and not the police. Well, well, well, Fred and Duncan agreeing on something……stop press.
Still with roads in mind, I then raised the worrying issue around safe routes for children to walk to school. A few weeks ago parents of children who attend Benderloch school had a meeting with representatives from Argyll and Bute council to discuss the concerns about children walking to school from the Tralee and Shenavall catchment area.
These roads have very dangerous blind spots and, in places , no footpaths, At times 40 ft trucks drive along the road which is mostly a single track going to and from the fish farm at South Shian.
The council has now carried out a new assessment of the road and once again, say it is safe for accompanied children to walk to school. Watch this space on this one, Inspector Julie Mcleish said she knows the road very well and she certainly wouldn’t let her children walk down there alone.
Staying with roads, a resident of Appin raised concerns over speeding motorists in the 40 mph zone just as you enter the village. There have been two fatal accidents in eight months on that stretch of road. The police said that there had been regular radar traps set up at that point but convictions for speeding were light.
I then asked how many of the recorded incidents of assault were down to domestic abuse. The figures were not to hand but I was assured that overall figures for domestic abuse in both wards in the last 12 months were down. Oban North’s stats were 129 cases down to 55; and Oban South’s were 39 down to 33.
The chief inspector was then asked by myself and another audience member about his successes in countering drug dealing in the area. His feeling was that although we have seen many prosecutions in the last 18 months – and under his command a lot of resources have been very successfully targeted on the problem, he wasn’t complacent.
These meetings are a good way for YOU to voice your concerns to the police – and they do listen. Get involved.