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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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Low turnouts to see Cumbria's crime chief

Just a handful of people have been attending drop-in surgeries for Cumbria’s £65,000 police and crime chief.

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Richard Rhodes: ‘Suspension in accordance with regulations’

Richard Rhodes revealed as few as five people attended his surgeries in Kirkby Lonsdale and Brampton, while Wednesday’s session in Millom attracted eight people – including a reporter and five councillors.

Mr Rhodes, speaking at a meeting on Friday, said the exception had been in Barrow where people “queued up” to speak to him, though did not offer figures.

Attendance suggests a degree of apathy towards the role – however, Mr Rhodes said sessions have been useful to gather real priorities from communities.

Councillor Linda Vance, a member of the panel, said the commissioner should use social media in a bid to engage with more members of the public and asked how effective Mr Rhodes’ surgeries were.

He said: “In Kirkby Stephen there were six, in Kirkby Lonsdale there were five, in Brampton there were five, in Sedburgh nil, and Millom eight.

“Best of all was Barrow where people queued up to meet me.”

The panel heard how a major new alcohol clampdown will launch in September in a bid to tackle under age and excessive drinking across the county.

Panel members agreed to review the panel’s complaints procedures after eight people complained about the scandal which erupted over Mr Rhodes’ £700 bill for two chauffeur driven Mercedes trips, and the subsequent arrest of three people with four people being questioned.

However, the panel said the issue was ‘closed’ and instead pledged to review the complaints and compliments procedure.

Councillor Celia Tibble, who was elected leader of the panel, said: “I suggest we look at how we deal with our complaints and compliments now we have experience – good, bad or indifferent. Perhaps now is the time to review our policy and procedures so that we have closure on this.”

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