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Will our local police stations be forced to close?
TENBURY and Ludlow will have to make a case for keeping their police stations as West Mercia copes with unprecedented budget cuts.
New police and crime commissioner (PCC) Bill Longmore says that the future for every station in the force area is under review including Church Stretton, Craven Arms and Bishop's Castle. Mr Longmore this week continued to face criticism over his decision to appoint former colleague Barrie Sheldon as his deputy, and the controversy was fuelled by comments made during an interview in which he suggested he should have held a “sham selection”
process before appointing Mr Sheldon.
Today Worcester County Council’s Labour group is to press for a vote of no-confidence in the duo, while the under-fire police boss has written to the council’s chief executive Trish Haines in a bid to get the motion rejected.
Meanwhile, with West Mercia having to manage a £30 million budget cut, Chief Constable David Shaw has already told Tenbury Town Council that the savings will mean fewer police officers, fewer community support officers and fewer police stations, with policy priorities shifting to high crime areas, of which Tenbury is not one.
Councillors, however, remain concerned this will be reflected in plans expected to be announced this month.
But the chief constable said it was a mistake to focus on stations that offered “reassurance not protection”.
Around 650 staff are expected to go from roles defined as non-essential.
“But you cannot take out £30 million without reducing the number of police officers and CSOs. Let’s not kid ourselves that we are living in an area where crime is running riot,”
Future options include shared sites with other emergency services , with Mr Shaw saying response time rather than where officers were based being the issue.
The PCC’s policing plan for 2013-17 is now out for consultation and pitches no rise in the police council tax precept over 2013/14. The government has indicated that it will offer an extra £800k a year – equivalent to a one per cent rise - over two years if the precept level is held at zero.
A two per cent increase, however, will allow around 30 police constable posts or 60 police community support officer posts to be maintained beyond 2015/16 if present financial projections hold true and represents of some 7p a week to the Band D property owner.