The ‘Old Men’s Parliament’ meets every Thursday and Tuesday morning in the Whitaker Shelter in the Garden of Rest, North Street, Wetherby.
On a Sunday morning, some two weeks ago, one of our members was helping to take down Wetherby’s Christmas lights and while going to make a cup of coffee for the volunteers he noticed one of the window panes had been kicked in.
A muddy footprint on the door showed it had been kicked in with such force as to smash the internal secondary glazing onto the floor.
After sweeping up the glass and completing the Christmas lights removal he phoned 101 and reported the crime. The operator was clearly unfamiliar with Wetherby – she asked for a postcode and wanted confirmation that it was not the Jubilee Garden.
She was friendly and professional and when she learned that we had not seen any suspicious persons said she would file the reports and provided a crime number. The damage report and the crime number were sent to the Whitaker Shelter owners, Wetherby Town Council, by email.
Since then the ‘Old Men’s Parliament’ members have discussed our ‘crime’ and we have also noted that the donkey in the crib in Bridge Foot Gardens was vandalised.
A restaurant window in the Shambles was smashed, as was a window of a shop in Bank Street.
One recurring comment was that we never see a policeman or a policewoman in Wetherby. We think this recent spate of damage to property should have triggered some visible police reaction.
This is not a new comment and a couple of our members attended the public meeting on Wetherby Town Council last year where we were informed that in comparison with the rest of the Leeds area Wetherby has a low crime rate and so gets a low level of policing.
This may be a downward spiral and people are not reporting crimes because they see no police action. We wanted the attack on ‘our’ shelter to be officially recorded and be counted.
It just happens that one of our members in a retired police officer. When he was stationed in Wetherby, Wetherby Police Station was staffed by an inspector, four sergeants and 12 constables and ran four shifts.
As the town was half the size it is today, perhaps the residents then were far more criminally inclined.
But ‘seeing is believing’ and we think it would be reassuring to see a police presence in our town.
Through our extensive contacts of friends, neighbours and families we believe that the majority of the residents of Wetherby agree with us.
On behalf of the ‘Old Men’s Parliament’, Wetherby