Confidence needs to be rebuilt after religious festival resulted in a difficult week for Rutland, says county MP
The last week has been an enormously difficult one for all of us in Rutland, writes county MP Alicia Kearns (Con).
It is unacceptable that our communities have felt intimidated and unacceptable that we’ve seen the criminality and appalling behaviour that took place at the religious festival.
Together we were able to make our community safer. Requests from me, the council and our Police and Crime Commissioner significantly increased police presence around the Showground and this led to a marked reduction in incidents alongside the departure of all those who came to our county just for the weekend but had no intention of attending the rest of the event at the Showground.
The vast majority of criminal behaviour was during the weekend, and it makes me angry that these appalling actions left our community worried for the duration of the event. I’d like particularly to recognise all those shop workers, shop owners and businesses for whom this week was particularly difficult – especially those at Aldi, McDonald’s and the M&S petrol station. I’m sorry for the treatment you received.
I’d like to say a big thank you to our police. Once they were notified of the event, with increased policing resources, they ensured a heavy presence across our county in marked and unmarked vehicles, focusing on the sites from which most police reports were being received.
Alongside increased police officers, we had support from the drone unit, dog unit, and specialist road police unit. The council stepped up covid patrols and the Showground brought in additional security – these measures were very important. Rutland’s public services worked together, using every tool at our disposal.
However, there are lessons to be learned, and as a community confidence to be rebuilt. There’s no question that the disruption and upset we faced this week was avoidable, and it is the responsibility of all involved to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Early notification for the council and police in future is a must, and I know the Showground has taken this on board. We must ensure our communities have the support we deserve to maintain normality – even with a large event going on at our doorstep. And as we saw, a well thought-out and pre-agreed exit plans make all the difference. The failings we saw must not be repeated, and I will work with all partners to ensure they are not.
I visited the Showground again on Friday, and the speed with which Oakham was returned to its beautiful normal state was very impressive. I’m grateful to senior event attendees who during the week took up our requests and organised greater monitoring of the activities of attendees, and who also arranged for 60+ attendees to litter pick and clean up not just the showground, but also the bypass, nearby car parks, verges, and hedges.
In happier news for Rutlanders this week, many of our children’s schools will be able to provide an even better environment for our children to learn. I congratulate Langham C of E Primary School, Empingham C of E Primary School and Cottesmore Academy who have and won their share of £483m in Government funding to improve school buildings. Congratulations to them all.
But I also want to celebrate Casterton College which this week was one of only three schools in the country awarded a Pearson National Teaching Silver Award for Making a Difference to the students they teach! Be ready to watch them on TV as they have now been shortlisted to win one of just 15 gold awards which will be broadcast by the BBC!
Finally, it was lovely earlier this week to visit HMP Stocken to mark Armed Forces Day. Next year I am so looking forward to a big celebration across our county as a day of thanks for our Armed Forces who protect us in times of war, and in times of peace both at home and abroad.
We’ve all seen what our Armed Forces have done for us at home this last year, and there are many from Rutland currently serving on some of the most dangerous operations around the world. We thank you. The men and women who serve and have served represent the best of us. Thank you, and thank you to your families and those in our military community.