By Paul Ainsworth

A well known South Belfast blogger and campaigner has called for answers after he was rejected for a position on the new Policing and Community Safety and Partnership (PCSP) for Castlereagh.

John Collins, who writes the Mr J blog and Tweets under the same name, said he was told by the body he was turned down for ‘not being linked to the area’ despite working as a firefighter there for five years.

John, who regularly attended the local District Policing Partnerships, which are being replaced by the new PCSP, often grilled cops and local politicians on the panels over issues of public safety and concern, using Freedom of Information requests to gain answers, and clashing with members on answers.

The active campaigner had at one time been threatened with legal action by Belfast City Council after tweeting a picture of empty seats at a DPP meeting, to highlight poor attendance.

Planning to become involved with the new models, he submitted a request to join the PCSP for Castlereagh, but  said he was was stunned to be told his services were not required.

Applications are first dealt with by local councils, before going to the Policing Board for final approval.

“I was told in a letter from Castlereagh Council that I was unsuccessful, not even making the shortlist, because I wasn’t a resident of the area and had no close connection to the area,” John said.

“Yet I live 600 yards from what would be considered the ‘border’ for Castlereagh, and have worked there for over five years when I was employed by the fire service. I consider it my local area, and am shocked to have been rejected.”

“It’s a shame as I would be very keen to get involved for the people of the local area, and I have written to the council demanding clarity on their decision. My next step would be to go to the Policing Board to see if I can appeal this.”

A Castlereagh Council spokesperson said they had “adhered to the fair and unbiased procedures as set by the Northern Ireland Policing Board throughout the recruitment process of independent members to the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships.”

The spokesperson added: “The Policing Board is ultimately responsible for making independent member appointments to the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships. A complaints process is in place for any applicant who has concerns about the appointment process.”

 

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