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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 06:32 GMT 07:32 UK
National poet's ode to Brunstrom
Richard Brunstrom in police uniform and at the ceremony
Richard Brunstrom in his day job uniform, and as a druid
A poem in praise of north Wales' often controversial chief constable has been printed in the newspaper the force sends homes throughout the area.

Thank Heaven for Richard Brunstrom, by Welsh national poet Gwyn Thomas, says: "We need more English like him".

The chairman of North Wales Police Authority has defended the move to print the poem in Y Glas (The Blue).

But former AM Alison Halford said the police authority had been "ill-advised" to print the poem with taxpayers' cash.

Mr Brunstrom has frequently been in the headlines over his views on such issues as drugs and speeding on the roads.

For the past five years he has been learning Welsh, and was made a druid at the 2006 National Eisteddfod.

The poem in his honour, which is printed bilingually in the police newspaper, concentrates on his support for the language.

Mr Brunstrom has been criticised for his crackdown on speeding, and he admitted to MPs two years ago that it was an "obsession" of which he was proud.

Professor Gwyn Thomas (Picture by Owain Llyr,  Academi)
The poet thinks we should "Thank heaven for Richard Brunstrom"

He has also been critical of drug policy, and returned to the subject in his latest web log, or diary, on the North Wales Police website, when he argued that the "war on drugs" could not be won.

The force declined to comment on the poem's inclusing in its newspaper but police authority chairman Ian Roberts defended its use, saying it made the publication more interesting for its readership.

He said: "If you just put serious police issues in it, it wouldn't be something that the public would pick up and read.

"It is about the chief constable, about the police authority and it's about the force. It has a serious message but it also has some light-hearted articles to keep it interesting."

But Alison Halford, a former Merseyside assistant chief constable who once sat on the North Wales Police Authority, said she feared its members had become "mesmerised" by the chief constable's public persona.

One-way ticket

The former Labour AM for Delyn said: "The police authority has to be impartial.

"It has to accept that they have to run an effective police force, and the precept on our council tax bills is huge.

"The police authority must understand their allegiance to the chief constable will not sit well with the poor [people] who have to pay the precepts."

Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign, said: "Mr Brunstrom is largely responsible for speed cameras that scare away tourists and prosecute safe drivers.

"I'm sure someone in England must have paid for his one-way ticket."

The Blue (English translation)

Time was when Welsh in Wales was not, officially, police.

Time was when Welsh in Wales could be extremely dangerous.

Time was when Welsh in Wales could be debilitating.

Then there came one chief constable, an English man, who made a world of difference.

He was a man who felt no need to be embarrassed

For our native tongue - it was, said he, here for our use.

We should be grateful for him - we need more English like him, Richard Brunstrom,

And fewer of the sort of Welsh who invent impediments to shut our language in some final and eternal bin.

Wales' new national poet is named
08 Jul 06 |  South East Wales
Chief constable becomes a druid
11 Aug 06 |  North West Wales
Police recruits face Welsh test
20 Jul 06 |  North West Wales

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