Wisbech Citizen Patrol (WCP) volunteers decided to call a “time out” at a meeting last night held to discuss the group’s future following comments on Facebook over town centre drinking.
Mayor Steve Tierney said members had been upset by some of the more “extreme” views and wanted a meeting to discuss “how and whether” the volunteer group fits into the town’s future.
A statement issued following the meeting said: “WCP have decided to take some time out. We will do no further patrols this year and will look again at the situation at some point in 2018. Some volunteers have suggested a new approach targeted at helping the homeless. Or perhaps we will not start again at all. That will be for volunteers to decide, somewhere down the line.”
The statement accuses some posters on social media of trying to “paint Wisbech as though it were some awful place”. But WCP said: “This does not match with our experiences at all. WCP believe that everybody is entitled to their own views and to express them. But apparently our volunteers are not accorded this same right. When our volunteers point out that we have actually been walking patrols at all hours and don’t agree with this picture, they get abused.
“In regards to the street drinkers – yes, they are out there. Some are homeless, some have mental health issues, many are just people enjoying a drink after work. We have encountered almost no problems from them. We agree that Wisbech has problems, like any town does, and that’s why WCP was formed. But we were formed as a positive, friendly and non-confrontational solution to help the community solve issues.”
Coun Tierney, who has come under personal attack on social media, with accusations he sees the town “through rose tinted glasses”, said the issue of drinking had become a “political football” with people trying to outdo one another with stories of problems they have witnessed.
He said WCP members have walked thousands of miles around the town at all times of the day and night in the past 18 months and found it was mostly like a “ghost town”.
He said: “I can honestly count on two hands the number of times we have had to deal with a problem. All this publicity is painting a bad image of our town and it is mostly exaggerated. Whatever the future of WCP those volunteers can be proud of what they have done for our town.”