Thousand name public opinion survey published as council election candidate emerges

A thousand name survey of public attitudes towards public services in the Penistone district has been compiled over recent months by a resident who is now to stand as an independent candidate in May’s local authority elections.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 2:48 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th March 2019, 1:56 pm
Spotlight: Penistone residents have been questioned on public services
Spotlight: Penistone residents have been questioned on public services

Businessman David Wood has been active on community issues in the town for some time and compiled the survey – asking a range of questions across policing and council services – via a ‘forum’ website he created.

He believes the format used was safe to guard against multiple answers from the same sources and is an accurate reflection of the views of those who took part, with Mr Wood now planning to present the results to the appropriate authorities.

On policing, more than 96 per cent said they wanted to see the town’s police station re-opened, with more than 87 per cent approving of a local meeting with South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings.

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More than half also suggested police should prioritise dealing with drug issues in the area.

Those concerns are already being addressed to some extent, with the police station back in use by officers and PCSOs, though with no public counter.

Penistone West Coun Dave Griffin, who has conducted his own crime surveys over the last three years, has been working to get volunteers to staff a public counter and although that will not be possible at the station on security grounds, a part time service may be established in another public building.

Police have revealed recently they have been conducting stop search checks for drugs in the area, with officers also working in plain clothes and Dr Billings is to attend a public meeting in May, resulting from public concerns raised at a regular public safety meeting.

More than 60 per cent of those responding to the survey said they were “dissatisfied” with Barnsley Council, though no reasons were specified and more than 70 per cent wanted to see Green Belt land protected and brownfield sites used.

The council’s policy for the next 15 years over land use was introduced in January, which will see sites around Penistone – along with much of the borough – developed for housing, including Green Belt because suitable brownfield sites have been exhausted.

More than nine out of ten wanted to see more job creation in the district, but under the same Local Plan adopted in January, only one fresh site for business development has been allocated in the area, meaning that is unlikely.

Mr Wood said: “I wanted to know exactly what people are experiencing within our community, I wanted to know from the horse’s mouth how they feel and what they expect from those that are able to make changes happen.

“This was after I had listened to various local business owners and their employees complaining about the increase in shoplifting on the high street as well as thefts from farms, homes and vehicles,” he said.

Mr Wood is to stand for the Penistone West ward and will be one of several candidates.