New Weston base 'critical' for modern policing
PUBLISHED: 10:00 17 June 2015
A NEW police response centre, described as being 'critical to delivery of modern, effective, community-based police service', will replace the Weston's outdated town centre station.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary this week submitted a formal planning application for a new base at the Weston Gateway Business Park near to junction 21 of the M5.
Police bosses say the plan is part of an ‘overall modernisation and improvement program’ but warn the timescale is made more urgent because their current Weston headquarters in Walliscote Road is ‘no longer fit for purpose’.
Some of its services, such as the public front desk, have already transferred to the nearby Town Hall, while its custody suite has been replaced by a purpose-built facility in Bridgwater.
The station will close next year.
That means the constabulary is keen to quickly secure planning permission for the new base, warning that a delay – or even a refusal – could leave the area without appropriate policing cover.
Planning documents say: “This new police response centre is required in order to provide a modern, fit for purpose, and responsive police service for Weston and the surrounding area.
“This is because the town centre police station will close next year, as it is no longer fit for purpose and is out of date.
“If a new police response centre is not delivered, there will potentially be no police station facility within the town given this situation.”
The proposed site was identified at the end of an extensive search for a suitable location, which saw land considered at Weston Airfield, Locking Castle and the Oldmixon estate.
Each was ruled out because experts decided these options ‘would not accommodate the specific requirements of the police’ or were too remote from major road links like the A370 and M5.
Now, the plan is to create a bespoke, brick and render-built HQ measuring 23 metres by 15 metres, which is expected to house up to 140 jobs.
That will include 120 officers, split across three shifts, plus 20 other office staff. Frontline officers based at the response centre will ‘spend 80 per cent of their shift time within the community they cover’, according to the planning application.
Teams based at Weston Gateway will include officers covering Weston, Worle and village beats.
The proposals also include ‘a small base’ for ambulance crews.
All of this is expected to comply with council policy regarding employment use and help the police maintain operational standards in Weston.
The documents continue: “Clearly, a new modern police response centre is part of the critical infrastructure required for Weston in order to support its development and regeneration.
“The building is critical in order to maintain a police base within the town.
“The new building will fulfil a key objective of the council and the Core Strategy of ensuring that Weston is a safe and sustainable community.”
“Crucially the proposals will provide a new modern, fit-for-purpose police station within Weston.”