Weston to lose town centre police station
PUBLISHED: 09:35 07 May 2014
WESTON will lose its town centre police station as part of a widespread cost-cutting exercise.
Years of rumours that the police station in Walliscote Road would be lost finally came to an end on April 28, when major changes to Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s operations were announced.
A new response hub will replace the current police building and will be near junction 21 of the M5. It will open in 2016 or 2017.
The move, being replicated force-wide, will enable the constabulary to cut the number of buildings it owns by more than a third and reach saving targets.
Police bosses insist the move will not impact on the quality of policing.
Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I do not want residents to feel the police are withdrawing from their area or street. Far from it.
“Our plans are about reducing the amount of oversized and under-utilised buildings we own and providing the best possible access for our communities.”
“In the traditional sense police stations, as you know them now, will change.”
A police enquiries desk moved into Weston Town Hall at the beginning of last year and will remain there, with Ms Mountstevens saying that will ensure a police presence will ‘remain in the heart of the community’.
A police spokesman said an area near junction 21 had been identified but she could not be too specific about where, because negotiations are ongoing.
Chief Inspector Alex Cohen, area commander for North Somerset, said: “The changes relate to buildings rather than officers so the public are likely to see very little difference.
“Reducing our buildings and achieving savings in this way allows us to keep more police officers and staff on or close to the frontline.
“The proposed location for the patrol base, close to junction 21, will give much better access to Weston, and surrounding areas.
“We’re adopting similar principles elsewhere – it’s easy to get snarled up in traffic in busy town centres so locating these hubs on the outskirts of town gives greater flexibility.”
Weston MP John Penrose said he felt the move could have a positive impact on the area’s policing.
He said: “A few months ago, I met police chiefs Nick Gargan and Sue Mountstevens to make sure we’d keep a police station in Weston.
“They promised me that, even if they moved to better, more modern premises, the town would keep its police base come what may. And they’ve been true to their word; in fact, a new building near junction 21 should give better coverage than before for Worle and rural villages.
“Our local crime has been falling steadily for several years now, and I want to keep it that way.”
Weston is not the only town to be affected by the review, with 12 police stations closing down in the next five years.
Burnham police station, in Burnham Road, will close by 2015 and there is a possibility it could move into a new hub alongside Devon Fire and Rescue Service, subject to funding.
The current police facilities in Cheddar will also go in 2016-17 and be replaced by a smaller base for its local policing team.
However in Blagdon, the police office will stay open.