Mnutes of meeting with Michael Lane Hampshire Police & Crime Commissioner
A32 Update on motorbikes
As some residents of West Meon and Warnford may know, there was a meeting with Michael Lane, the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), on Friday last week. This meeting was called by parish counciilors from the Meon Valley to pressure the PCC into taking action now on the average speed cameras. These had been agreed by the previous PCC in April. At the meeting, the PCC would not approve the cameras, which is very disappointing.
Despite strong support from our MP George Holingberry, our local Police officers and Paul Fullick from Loomies, the PCC only agreed to look into this again and meet in 8 weeks time. The parish chairman of West Meon and Warnford would welcome contact with local news media to raise this issue more widely. The parish councils of the Meon Valley and A32 corridor will also meet to consider future actions and draw on the continued support of our MP to being political pressure to bear on the PCC.
I am sorry that the news is not more positive, but we continue to strive to try and improve the situation for spring and summer 2017.
WORKING TO TACKLE RURAL CRIME
The Meon Valley is a largely rural area which means it is vulnerable to rural crime
George Holingbury is working hard with local residents and the police to cut illegal activity in the countryside. He regularly meets with the Chief Constable, Police and Crime Commissioner as well as the local Inspectors in his patch with rural crime always near the top of the agenda.
George says: “As I represent a largely rural constituency, I’m very much aware of the devastating impact rural crime has on communities.
If high levels of crime took place in an urban area there would be uproar, so it is right that the rural community makes sure the problem is in the limelight.”
In October, George also met with the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Hampshire County Council Chief Executive, Chief Inspector Hampshire Constabulary of Road Policing and Corhampton and Meonstoke Parish Council to discuss the complaints from residents and local councils regarding loud motorcycle exhaust emissions in and around the A272 and the A32.
It was confirmed that the possibility of installing average speed cameras will be investigated at hot spots along the “riders’ route.”
George has since met with representatives from both the British Motorcycling Federation and the Motorcycle Industry Association. They have offered their support in reducing the illegal noise levels produced by a minority of riders that adversely affect so many people living along the routes.
The matter will be raised at the All Party Parliamentary Motorcycle Group later this year in an attempt to create momentum within the industry and amongst user groups.
MOTORCYCLE USE OF THE A32 & A272 – POLICE RESPONSE TO ANTI-SOCIAL RIDING
Following a meeting of affected parishes with the Police Commissioner and senior police the following actions are reported below. The accountable officer for our area is PS Stuart Gilmour, based at Bishops Waltham
Summer 2014 saw an unprecedented level of reporting to police about the inconsiderate and anti-social use of motorcycles by some riders using the A32, A272 and connecting routes. The issue is not a new one with motorcyclists having been attracted to these roads for many years, however, the increasing scale of the problem resulted in parish councils requesting a meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mr Simon Hayes in spring 2014. In addition this was the overriding topic of conversation at the newly formed Police and Communities Together (PACT) group meetings during 2014 incorporating the villages from West Meon along the A32 to Corhampton and Meonstoke.
At the October PACT meeting held in Warnford a section of the community meeting were critical about the lack of police response to this issue during 2014. This had (partly) prompted a request for a follow up meeting with the PCC which was duly held at West Meon in November 2014.
This summary has been prepared to inform the communities about police (and partners) actions since the meeting with the PCC in November 2014 and to present plans to tackle the issue as we approach the season of warmer weather which potentially intensifies the level of motorcycle intrusion in 2015.
Since November 2014 and in preparation for spring and summer 2015 different strands of the police organisation involving Roads Policing Unit (RPU) including Bikesafe, Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPT) in Winchester and Alton, the Safer Roads Unit incorporating the Safety Camera Partnership (speed enforcement vans) and the Corporate Communications Team have all been talking and meeting regularly to develop a strategy to deter anti-social riding. Other partners involved in discussion have included Hampshire County Council (Highways) and the South Downs National Park (SDNP).
It is important to distinguish between different roles in challenging this issue. The core police response is evidently enforcement, identifying and dealing with traffic and potentially criminal offences; however education is also a key element aimed at casualty reduction.
Responsibility for the road infrastructure, road surfaces, roadside furniture, signage and speed limits is the responsibility of Hampshire County Council.
The South Downs National Park as a relatively young authority does not have any authority or control over highways. Their core influence is around planning issues with no responsibility or influence over use of the road network running through the National Park.
Public perception, certainly amongst local residents affected by this issue has historically been that the authorities are pro-bike, not willing or able to deal with motorcyclists riding dangerously, at excess speed or inconsiderately, whilst encouraging residents and other road users to “Think Bike”. A strong public opinion at the October PACT meting was that the emphasis needed to shift to make “Bikers Think” about how their behaviour has a detrimental affect on residents.
An enquiry with Hampshire County Council following the October PACT meeting revealed that HCC already have a supply of roadside signs that read “Bikers Think”. A review of the A32 and A272 during autumn 2014 revealed however that no “Bikers Think” signs had been placed in 2014, however, “Think Bike” signs were still in place on the A32, A272 and several B roads. HCC when replacing roadside posters in the next couple of weeks will mix posters containing the two messages with an emphasis on “Bikers Think” posters at village entrances and in areas of residential dwellings.
RPU have maintained an operation year on year to engage with bikers, to promote Bikesafe and to reduce casualties. This will continue during 2015 but will be supported by increased construction and use operations to identify motorcycles that are being ridden illegally or with illegal parts. The safer roads unit and safety camera partnership have been identifying additional sites (outside of village centres) on the road network to conduct speed enforcement. NPT officers following community criticism in Winchester and East Hants will be pro-active in conducting their own operations to identify construction and use offences as well as speeding. These operations will focus on a “ring of steel” on the four routes away from West Meon (A32 North and South and A272 East and West). Critical to all of this having a positive influence on the problem is each police function knowing what the others are doing and working in co-operation.
The neighbourhood team in conjunction with corporate communications and roads policing teams have constructed a leaflet to hand out to all bikers stopped, to make them think about the impact they are having on residents living along these routes. These will also be placed in businesses along the routes frequented by motorcyclists. The road policing unit lead is conducting a press release on the weekend of 29th and 30th March which will include a strong message about anti-social motorcycle use and the impact on residents.
All of the police functions involved in operations during 2015 will feed in to a spreadsheet enabling the neighbourhood policing team to inform communities about police activity and prosecutions. Keeping the community informed about what the police are doing is critical in regaining public confidence about the police response to this issue. Communication will be sent on a monthly basis to parish council clerks but can be viewed publicly by signing up to follow PCSO Sarah McCulloch on Twitter, or by signing up to Hampshire Alerts or by visiting the Hampshire Constabulary website and visiting my neighbourhood “Upper Meon Valley”.
So what can you, the community do? As stated earlier, the police function is primarily about enforcement and education. The A32 and A272 are unlikely to have their A road status changed. Physical changes to the road, pinch points or rumble strips on the approach to villages and consistent (50mph) speed limits outside of the villages have both been discussed at PACT previously. The implementation of any change is decided on and implemented by Hampshire County Council (Highways). As parish councils and individuals you have elected councillors on Winchester City Council and of more relevance in this scenario on Hampshire County Council. Lobby your elected representatives for permanent changes to these roads because without physical changes the roads will remain a playground for some motorbike riders.
Latest figures for motorcycle operations year to date as follows:
Totals Speed 37 Careless 1 Dangerous 0 Con & Use 18 Exhaust 2 Other Offences 20 PG9 (seizure – not roadworthy) 1 165 (no insurance) 0
Within these figures there are a variety of disposals, fixed penalty notice, traffic offence report which may be summons to court or an out of court disposal such as attending a driver awareness course. Roads policing unit start another separate operation next week specifically based around construction and use offences so we are really applying some pressure and committing resources to this.