Cumbrian police stations closure plan raises fears
Last updated at 12:07, Friday, 23 December 2011
People in Cockermouth fear the town’s Main Street police station could be left to rot and officers moved somewhere less accessible after Cumbria Constabulary announced plans to sell the building.
Cumbria Police Authority on Tuesday approved the sell-off of police stations, including those in Cockermouth, Keswick and Maryport.
They will be replaced with a new central base in Cockermouth for the Allerdale rural neighbourhood policing team.
Officers in Keswick will work from the town’s fire station.
The measures are being taken as the constabulary seeks to save £20.3 million by 2016 amid government spending cuts.
The location of the new Cockermouth base is still under negotiation.
A spokesman for Cumbria police said Cockermouth Police Station, which was built around 1895, was not fit for purpose and was expensive to maintain.
He added: “The existing station will be sold to generate income and the neighbourhood policing team will relocate to a new building with better road links.”
Keswick Police Station, he said, was too big and was underused, with officers spending their time in the community rather than the office.
Darren Ward, architectural advisor for Cockermouth Civic Trust, said: “The confirmation that Main Street police station is to be closed is disappointing and concerning as alternative use for the building is limited. It is likely to remain unused and empty for some time.
“Residential use has been suggested but under current Environment Agency policy no new residences can be created within the flood zone even when a building already exists.
“The trust would prefer to see the police station remain on Main Street and maintain its very visible presence.”
Cockermouth mayor Christine Smith said the move would be acceptable as long as the new station was built in or near the town.
She added: “We don’t want to have to wait for help to come from far away.”
Peter Jenkin, 76, of Slatefell Drive, said: “We fear the building will stand empty and not be used. We don’t want another empty building on Main Street.
“It’s very handy to get to, especially for the infirm, because it is central.”
Michael Baron, 86, of South Street, said: “Cockermouth still needs a police station so it must remain in the town.”
Jonty Chippendale, owner of The Toy Shop on Main Street, said: “The building is in a high-risk flood area and people may not want to risk taking it on as a business.
“It could stand empty and fall into disrepair. We don’t want the station and police presence moved further away from the community.”
He added that concern that a wall in the damaged car park, which formed part of the town’s flood defences, needed repairing before the police moved out.
Keith Roddy, Environment Agency project manager, confirmed that a temporary flood barrier was installed in the police yard after the floods and the agency was in talks with landowners, including the police.
The force said it would not leave existing stations until it was able to move into new sites, and a visible police presence would be maintained.
First published at 19:21, Thursday, 22 December 2011
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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