War of words over MP's TV comment

AN Essex MP has been told he is “ill informed” about affairs in his constituency by furious councillors after he appeared to criticise them during a television interview.

AN Essex MP has been told he is “ill informed” about affairs in his constituency by furious councillors after he appeared to criticise them during a television interview.

While discussing the recent spate of arson attacks on beach huts along the Tendring coastline, Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Harwich and Clacton, reportedly said “the council should get their thumbs out” - a phrase that has provoked anger among members of Frinton and Walton Town Council.

Town mayor Terry Allen, who left the Tory party last year to found splinter political group Tendring First, has sent a strongly worded letter to Mr Carswell detailing the initiatives and measures taken by the council to combat anti-social behaviour.

Speaking to the EADT, Mr Allen called the MP a “bandwagon jumper” and said the area needed a representative who lived and worked locally.

He said: “He supports lots of things, but he doesn't actually seem to achieve much. He needs to rethink the way he does things.

“The people of Tendring deserve someone who's going to really work for their interests and is aware of all their concerns.”

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Mr Allen claims the council has been at the forefront of fighting crime in the town for many years and had a state-of-the-art surveillance system and a Mosquito sonic device to deter youths from loitering in trouble-spots.

The town also has eight police community support officers - more than any other town in Essex - and spends more than a quarter of its budget on tackling crime.

In the letter, Mr Allen readily conceded the council did not, by any means, “have all the answers” and challenged the MP to come up with “practical, tangible new ideas”.

He wrote: “If, with your many contacts, you know of another town council doing things that we could usefully emulate, please tell me.

“But I need specifics and I am not interested in negativity or purely aspirational statements.”

In response, Mr Carswell has said he would be “delighted” to tell the council about research he has carried out about “zero tolerance” policing in New York and Philadelphia with criminologists from the USA and the UK.

He said: “If everything is so fantastic and wonderful then why are vandalism and yob culture on the increase?”

Mr Carswell said there was no doubt that the town's “various forums and quangos” were discussing the problems, but the fact remained that nothing seemed to be happening to combat such behaviour.

He said: “I have gathered quite a lot of evidence from different countries and I would be happy to share that with them. But if Mr Allen is really trying to convince us that all is well then I don't think he will be kidding anyone.”

Mr Carswell said that after a summer which saw more than 90 beach huts burned down or attacked by yobs, he was fed up with hearing excuses.

He added: “As the local MP I have every right and indeed a duty to speak out on behalf of people who feel angry about a lack of zero tolerance policing.

“If it upsets one or two councillors, so be it. I'm not in politics to massage their egos.”