RE: Last week’s letter from Tory councillor Roger Colomb criticising the way Wycombe District Council was run when it was under control of the Liberal Democrats and Labour in the late 1990s.

DIFFERENT people have different priorities – which is why they gravitate to different political parties. Then it is up to electors to choose.

A front page headline in the Bucks Free Press on October 5th, 2001 proclaimed: “Crime-ridden estate transformed.” It referred to the latest figures for crime in Castlefield. During the year 1998/1999, the reported crime figures were 628. For the first half of 2001, they were 187 – a significant fall. I have not yet located a later headline: Castlefield crime falls by 82 per cent.

As WDC’s Liberal Democrat Chairman of Policy, I was mocked for establishing a survey into deprivation in High Wycombe in 1995. It would cost £20,000! Outrageous profligacy, they cried! But the police, Wycombe General Hospital and Social Services each gave £5,000, thus cutting costs and committing them to the findings.

Professor Stenson’s groundbreaking deprivation survey released £6million for High Wycombe, including the £3million from John Major’s Government – so impressed were they with the work. In 1997, The Castlefield Challenge, designed to last for five years, was set up.

There was investment into social infrastructure: community workers, the YMCA, Skidz, the Youth Enquiry Service, the Rent Deposit Guarantee, Parents as First Teachers groups and others.

Young people were found accommodation and helped into jobs and off the streets. But to Cllr Colomb, (BFP April 23) these were just small cosmetic initiatives of no lasting benefit.

At the end of the five-year period of the Castlefield Challenge, under Councillor Colomb’s Conservative WDC administration, those schemes were under-funded, community workers were made redundant, and so the crime figures have crept up again. You take your choice about the priorities of the different political parties.

Frances Alexander, Liberal Democrat.