Whilst the local elections are really the one concerted time you get on the streets meeting and talking to local people, it does have a sense of artificial reality about it.
I have spent the last few days simply doing the case work I have built up from a few weeks on the doorsteps!
Bank Holiday was a fantastic family weekend away, with Lou's brother in London - very relaxing although the toll of limited sleep in the last week did impact on me! It was, though, great to be at the center of the Boris earthquake that took the capital by storm. I found myself watching another election count (the Mayoralty took about 24 hours to do!) and it almost (and I mean, almost) felt as good as winning in Bowthorpe.
By Tuesday night I was back chairing the Bowthorpe & Costessey SNAP Panel; an extremely well attended meeting it was too and the people there certainly made their feelings about the policing situation in the area clear. The Evening News report is here and we came out with 3 priorities - cutting crime in one area of Clover Hill, tackling parking in New Costessey and working on a youth centre for Bowthorpe. I am most determined to make sure that these priorities become realities and expect results; the people who put their trust in the democratic process deserve it.
Also that day the news broke about the apparent fiddling of crime figures by the Norfolk police, who were told in a leaked memo that they should be sure a crime was committed before recording it. They admitted that they were being driven by targets set by the government. So if a car window is smashed, that wouldn't count as a crime because you couldn't assume it was done on purpose without evidence.
No wonder people don't have faith in government crime statistics withthis happening. Labour are saying crime is falling but people know it isrising in key areas. Every crime needs to be reported, every crime needs to be invetsigated and every crime needs to be logged as such. Just because its a neighbour dispute or petty vandalism, doesn't mean it isn't a crime. This is outrageous. The Chief Constable needs to make a statement at once, reassuring people that every crime a policeman comes across and every crime that is reported is logged. We need to know we can trust the crime figures. I did an interview for the lead story on Look East for the BBC which went out at 6.30pm; certainly made an impression given the amount of response to it.
After that I then got to a residents meeting in Bowthorpe to discuss more anti-social behaviour issues.
Wednesday night was then a residents meeting in Town Close; interesingly those there weren't shocked by the LibDem collapse in the polls both locally and across the City. I knew a couple of party supporters there but most I was meeting for the first time. So many said that the LibDems were now out of the race to be our next MP and they knew that Cameron could beat Brown (hence a 26% poll lead) but that Clegg would keep Brown in power. Interesting stuff and a line we need to push harder. The meeting was very successful indeed.
I then went on to a party meeting / celebration drink at The George in Arlington Lane with a dozen or so of the key party activists. We did a lot of planning - more news to come - and there is a real feeling of momentum now. One said to me that he couldn't wait to get back on the streets campaigning given the political backdrop. We are raising money, getting money and winning support faster than ever before.
And tonight? Admin, marking and lesson planning - oh the glamerous life of the PPC!