Baker seeks council election to fight crime and antisocial behaviour in East Lothian town

An artisan baker who raised concerns about fighting and drinking outside his Haddington home is standing for election after exhausting his options as a “member of the public.”

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 1:59 pm

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Falko Burkert is one of a number of new faces who have sparked a community council election in the East Lothian town after putting themselves forward for a position.

And he says frustration at a lack of action and a lack of police in the town centre he has made home spurred him to step up to the plate.

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Falko Burkert moved to Haddington 'to escape city life'.

Originally from Germany, Falko has lived in Scotland for 24 years and spent the last four in Haddington where he opened his self-titled restaurant and bakery.

Formerly based in Edinburgh the konditormeister says he moved to East Lothian to escape city life.

However issues with antisocial behaviour in the town centre and a lack of tourists have left him frustrated.

Last summer he told a meeting of Haddington’s Community and Police Partnership how “blood, urine, excrement and vomit” had been left outside his front door.

And he said some of his neighbours who had also moved to Haddington for a quieter life were now regretting the decision with one even thinking about selling up.

The town centre has had a Problem Solving Partnership (PSP) in place over the last year because of concern over antisocial behaviour.

The joint police, council and community initiative is introduced in trouble hotspots and sees an increase police patrols and activity.

However problems have persisted with reports of youths drinking illegally and shops visited by police issuing alerts about adults buying booze for under-age drinkers.

Now Falko says he wants to be elected onto the community council to give a stronger voice to local residents affected by the issue adding it is time for people to “roll up their sleeves”.

He said: “I have seen the issues and tried all the channels available to me as a member of the public but we still have the problems. Moving one step further up might give me a better chance of tackling some of the problems we are seeing.

“When you try to call the police, they are not here any more. There are no uniformed officers on the street and it takes up to 40 minutes to answer the phone at the call centre if it is not an emergency.

“We have youngsters illegally drinking in our town centre. We need to roll our sleeves up and take it in hand.”

Community council elections are only triggered when more people apply to join than are needed and East Lothian will see three of their communities go to the polls on October 7.

Falko said he wants to step up to not just tackle antisocial behaviour but tackle a lack of tourism in the historic town centre.

He said: “Haddington is a rough diamond that needs to be polished, it is authentic and real but it is hidden from tourism. We need to make it known.

“If you tell people this is where you live often they do not even know where it is. We have to do more to bring tourists in to our town centre if we are going to survive in the future.”

Polling will take place by postal ballot.

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