By Davida Ademuyiwa, Resident and Conservative spokesperson for St Martin’s
Shocking, isn’t it? With the headlines such as: “Violent crime in Basildon has shot up by 33% in the last year.” (Echo, October 2019), can we continue to minimise and turn a blind eye to this issue of rising crime in Basildon?
A concerned resident recently sent me this picture (below), of a market stall right on St Martin’s Square that has a cabinet displaying various replica guns, zombie knives, and charmingly, a baseball bat wrapped with replica barbed wire. This is out on show in plain sight, in our market. What are we doing? Inviting and normalising crime? Creating an enabling environment for crime? We shouldn’t accept this in our community, should we? But we are! Do we walk past such a violent display of objects that subliminally feed that psyche of violence and crime in our town and do absolutely nothing?
According to EssexLive’s recent article, “The most dangerous areas to live in Basildon revealed by 2019's police data”, St Martin’s has the highest crime level. Is this any surprise? There are probably other factors that are feeding into this figure, like the town centre being a part of St Martin’s, but notwithstanding, as a concerned person who lives in the ward and the spokesperson of the Conservative Party for the ward, I believe this is unacceptable.
This has to change! How bad are we going to allow it to get? When are we, the residents, going to say we’ve had enough?
I was informed by another concerned resident of a market stall that has a cabinet displaying various cannabis smoking paraphernalia for sale. Not sure if it’s the same stall, but what sort of message does this send? To have a stall practically right outside the Council offices, in our town's showpiece market, selling smoking items with marijuana leaves painted all over them? Talk about drip feeding the crime culture in our town. Talk about creating an environment that harbours crime. It’s these little foxes that spoil the vine.
What subliminal messages are we sending out to the young people and children or our community as a whole? What message are we sending to the criminals that seek to use our town as their haven and launch pad? If we are going to change the culture of crime in Basildon and take back our town from criminals we need to change our messaging.
We must make a radical 180° shift away from the “Labour’s soft approach” and drive home a strong message of zero tolerance of crime.
Now, should we not have more control of what is being sold in our market? Apparently, this issue was raised with the police, by one of my colleagues, they said the items weren't illegal, and it was a trading standards issue. While it may not be illegal, should we not be exploring getting something into the terms and conditions of holding a market stall that certain items are not suitable for sale? Many of these items would be prohibited for sale on Ebay as part of their terms and conditions, wouldn’t they? As the market freeholders, the council should be able to determine who has a stall in our market and what they sell. We would be looking into investigating the terms of their agreement and look to put the necessary control measures in place.
But what I’d like to know is why the mayor of Basildon, Councillor David Burton-Sampson, is letting all this be sold on his ward, under his watch?