Word reaches me of high-handed behaviour on the part of the new traffic control zealots employed by Rushmoor.

These characters, adorned with uniforms and wandering in pairs, presumably for protection, are making life a misery for shop-keepers, whose customers are booked or frightened off if they dare stop outside a shop to do business, like taking in clothes for cleaning.

Workers like maintenance men and builders, trying to get jobs done under all kinds of pressure, find their vans adorned with tickets by these functionaries. As for delivery drivers and reps, you can imagine the hassle they suffer.

I told you so. Long before Rushmoor's rulers ushered in their new strike-force, seemingly with orders to kill trade by driving customers away, I said this would happen.

Give a man a uniform and a small amount of power and just watch him run amok. Send them out twinned and you double the trouble.

The only good news is that Rushmoor's Cabinet is aware of this mayhem on the streets and should now put an end to it. If they want to get re-elected, that is. Get a grip on their collars is my advice - and tell them they are our servants, not our masters.

If our councils really want to make a difference on the streets, they should follow the example of the newly elected independent mayor of Middlesborough, the former no-nonsense police chief Ray Mallon.

Mr. "Zero Tolerance" has hired 90 street wardens in a £1 million campaign against street crime. They will get £17,000 a year to patrol the streets, not to persecute law-abiding motorists but to collar the yobs who really do need tackling as a tide of graffiti, litter and thuggish-behaviour sweeps Britain.

All our councils waste hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, not least on fat pensions and "company cars" for many of their vast numbers of employees. I am sure they wouldn't mind sacrificing some benefits to help the communities they claim to serve.

Mayor Mallon expects crime to be cut 15 per cent within a year of his scheme's launch.

It is a good example of what an independent mayor can do, free from the trappings of party politics.

Frank Branstone, outspoken editor of free newspaper Bedfordshire on Sunday, has just been elected independent mayor of Bedford. I get the feeling that many of our readers are similarly fed up with the appalling way our communities are run by clapped out coteries of party hacks who, like Hampshire County Council, do not seem to listen to what local people try and tell them about their crazy schemes.

And finally, as you read this I will be speaking at a conference in Pennsylvania, telling them how wonderful the EU is (not!).

We'll be back in beautiful downtown Aldershot in a few days.