In early May the Festival Drayton Centre was the setting for the first Market Drayton Town Meeting in three years when residents were given the opportunity to raise questions about local issues of their choice. They also learnt something about the policing arrangements in the area from the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, John Campion, who delivered the night’s opening speech.
Commissioner Campion began by referring to the productive relationship that has developed between the current Town Council and the police but acknowledged that the most recent budget was mainly focused on maintaining the investigative capacity of the police on issues such as complex cyber fraud, violent crime and drugs. The ongoing investigation into maternity failings at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust was also proving a large drain on police resources and in spite of the pending recruitment of 125 new police officers, only a limited number would be available for ‘Safe Neighbourhood’ work. Nevertheless, he was up beat about about tackling the illegal supply of drugs through ‘County Lines’. He said the main task for the police was to deal with networks of organised crime which support the small time local providers.
On the issue of domestic violence, which has increased significantly during the pandemic, and currently accounts for one in four crimes in West Mercia, he said the police strategy was to remove the person committing harm from the setting where the crime occurred in order to support the victim in pursuing a legal case. Inspector Claire Greenaway of the Safer Neighbourhood Team added that whilst the nearest family refuge is in Newcastle-under-Lyme, the police have a number of local safe houses in north Shropshire.
The Commissioner stressed that the police station in Market Drayton is manned around the clock, although members of the public might need to be patient. An ‘A board’ outside informing residents when there is an officer available, occasionally has to be temporarily removed due to staff dealing with emergencies.
The Town Council part of the meeting consisted of a question and answer session, chaired by Councillor Roy Aldcroft, (Mayor at the date of the meeting). The vast majority of the dialogue centred on the inadequacies of the health care provision and public transport systems within Market Drayton at present.
It was generally agreed that the doctors and nurses at Market Drayton Medical Centre were providing really good medical care when it is possible to see them but it was extremely difficult to make appointments. The lack of any alternative to the Medical Centre, particularly on the west side of the town given the population increase due to new house building was an issue; as was the need for a local nursing home.
Councillor Aldcroft said that he shared the concern about insufficient medical arrangements and intended to discuss the subject with the Clinical Commissioning Group. He said the Town Council and Shropshire Council are lobbying for change, and that a planning application has been submitted for a nursing home in Market Drayton.
Disappointment was expressed about the recent reduction in the bus services to the town by Arriva. The D & G Bus Group will be providing replacement buses at more limited times on Service 64 between Shrewsbury, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Hanley in the short term with the overall situation set to be reviewed by Shropshire Council in September 2022.