Citizens' patrol in Wisbech calls it a day blaming changed atmosphere brought about by street drinking ban petition
PUBLISHED: 10:25 05 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:25 05 September 2017
Volunteer members of the self styled Wisbech Citizens' Patrol voted last night to disband after claiming a petition calling for a ban on street drinking had led to team members being abused.
In a statement posted to their Facebook group, the patrol – that was started by Wisbech councillor Steve Tierney - claimed that “in the last few weeks something has changed.
“There seems to be a desire to paint Wisbech as though it were some awful place with massive levels of crime and antisocial behaviour. This does not match with our experiences at all.
“WCP believe that everybody is entitled to their own views and to express them. But apparently our volunteers are not accorded this same right to free speech. When our volunteers point out that we have actually been walking patrols at all hours and don’t agree with this picture, they get abused. They get called names. They get told they are a ‘do-gooder or have ‘rose-tinted glasses.’”
The statement says that in regards to street drinkers “yes they are out there. Some are homeless, some have mental health issues, and many are just people enjoying a drink after work. We have encountered almost no problems from them.
“We do not believe there is any ‘no go’ area in Wisbech. The idea seems bizarre to us and does not match our experiences at all. Our volunteers have been men and women from teenage up to pension age, and we have all walked safely all over town at every time of day.
“We agree that Wisbech has problems, like any town does, and that’s why WCP was formed. But we were formed as a positive, friendly and non-confrontational solution to help the community solve issues.
“This new atmosphere that has come about, led by Mr Cook and his petition, is something we want no part of.”
The group says they are going to “take some time out” and will do no further patrols this year but look again at the situation at some point in 2018.
“Some volunteers have suggested a new approach targeted at helping the homeless. Or perhaps we will not start again at all,” the statement added. “That will be for volunteers to decide, somewhere down the line.”
James Cook, who co-ordinated the petition calling for a street drinking ban, will take it to Fenland Council’s next meeting on September 14 and address councillors for up to five minutes.
Of the decision to disband Mr Cook also posted to Facebook today saying of Cllr Tierney “it’s no skin off my nose if he wants to disband his merry little group over a made up atmosphere.
“It seems pretty selfish seeing as the general consensus was that they did a lot of good, mostly”.
The WCP statement accepted that “no doubt we will be criticised for decision – by the same people who attacked us when we formed and made sarcastic and unpleasant remarks throughout.
“But nobody can take away the good work done, the litter picked, the people helped, or the thousands of miles walked by a small group of dedicated volunteers who just wanted to make Wisbech a better place”.