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West Mercia Police to axe 11 sites and relocate even more
Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore and his deputy Barrie Sheldon at today's press conference
ELEVEN police bases across the West Mercia force area are to close completely in a bid to slash £1.5 million, it has emerged.
A further 19 will be shut and replaced by alternative sites, some of which are likely to offer a scaled-down face-to-face service.
Chief constable David Shaw said the move was a better alternative than more police officer cuts, saying “buildings provide no protection, people do”.
Some of the sites to close are fully functioning as police stations, while others are used as drop-in bases for officers on the beat, or for administration work.
Buildings in Droitwich, Pershore and Tenbury are among those to close in south Worcestershire, all of which will result in alternative bases springing up in each local area.
The overall number of 24/7 police patrol bases will reduce from 30 to 11, while the Safer Neighbourhood Teams will go from 145 to 82 under the plans.
Police and crime commissioner Bill Longmore, outlining the cuts yesterday, said: “We all know we are facing challenges.
“I can look back at generations of past policing from 30 or 40 years ago and can safely say the basics have not changed, it’s all about people.
“We have got to change things because of the austerity measures in the public sector, which is why we’ve looked at this.”
Mr Shaw added: “We’ve got to maximise our spend on the front line, and the critical emphasis is on the service we provide.
“We don’t want to portray an image that this isn’t tough - we’ve got to find £20 million in savings, but we want to make sure the impact on the public is minimal.”
The cuts, which will kick in from April onwards, will take place between now and 2015, as and when deals can be struck with private or public sector bodies to share new sites.
The force also says without the closures 30 police constable jobs, or 50 PCSO positions would potentially be under threat in order to make the saving.
- In Worcester, the police base at the Guildhall will close completely, saving around £18,000 a year in rent to the city council.
The base in Spetchley Road, opposite Nunnery Wood High School will close and be relocated to an alternative venue, but otherwise the city has escaped unscathed.
- In Malvern, the 24/7 response base which responds to 999 calls will be scrapped, with the service provided by Ledbury, Worcester or Evesham.
It means when people in the town call 999 for the police, the response will come from the best available alternative, although force chiefs say Malvern’s station will stay open and beat patrols will continue.
- In Droitwich, the police station will close, with a hunt starting for a new venue provided by another organisation on a shared basis.
- Pershore Police Station will also shut, with exactly the same exercise due to take place about having a shared base elsewhere.
- One of the worst affected areas will be Broadway, where the police station will shut without a replacement sought.
Instead, bosses will set up a community policing post, and rely on a safer neighbourhood team from Evesham.
- Tenbury Wells police station, which does not have staffed public service desk, will also close and will be relocated elsewhere in a shared base.
- Bromyard Police Station will close and an alternative base open up in a shared building, as well as Ross-on-Wye.
- North Worcestershire has also taken a hit, with the base at Comberton in Kidderminster and Bewdley shutting completely.
Bewdley will get a new community policing post where the public can drop in.
Both Comberton and Bewdley Safer Neighbourhood Teams will relocate to Kidderminster’s Habberly Road Station.
- In Bromsgrove, sites at Buntsford Gate and the town’s West Midlands Ambulance Service will also close.
- Redditch is hard hit, with offices in Crabbs Cross and the Kingfisher Centre shutting completely, as well as stations in Hagley and Wythall.
- The cuts will kick in from April onwards, but bosses say it could take up to three years before all the changes are made, as so many are dependent on alternative bases being found.
Two consultations are taking place, the first of which is at Shropshire Food Enterprise Centre in Shrewsbury on Thursday February 28, from 1pm.
The second one will be at Worcester’s Whitehouse Hotel, in Foregate Street, on Tuesday March 5, also from 1pm.
Click here for reaction to West Mercia's plans