New Forest East



By Christopher Booker

Sunday Telegraph – 11 November 2001

Last summer I received a press cutting from the Tory MP Dr Julian Lewis reporting a crisis facing the Netley steam and craft show in his Hampshire constituency. For 30 years this event has been raising tens of thousands of pounds for charities. Although visitors never gave trouble and policing was minimal, Hampshire police had obviously decided to target it as a nice little earner.

In 1998, police charges for attendance were £840. By this year they had risen to £3,574. Soon they would be £12,000. Half the charity funds raised would be diverted to police coffers.

The organisers, led by Tony Greenham, called on their MP for help, and nine days ago Dr Lewis made their plight the subject of a Commons debate, describing how, when a nearby housing estate at Totton is terrorised by child vandals, police are nowhere to be seen. Despite a weaselly reply from the minister, Keith Bradley, last Thursday Mr Greenham again met Hampshire police, to be told the threat to the rally was no more.

Policing will return to its original modest level. Furthermore two squad cars had been sent to the Totton housing estate, following which the vandals' reign of terror miraculously ceased. In these dark times, it is good to know some stories at least can still have happy endings.