Today we launch a poll to find out whether our readers are in favour with Accrington police station moving to Broadway in the town centre.
Police chiefs have defended their plans to relocate their HQ amid claims the proposal is for a ‘toy town cop shop’.
Two retail units on Broadway are set to be transformed at a cost of £500,000 to accommodate the neighbourhood policing team.
Council bosses have welcomed the move and Lancashire Police said the move will save the force £65,000 a year.
But Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hyndburn, Kevin Horkin has branded the move as ‘policing on the cheap’. He said the new town centre location is ‘wholly inappropriate’, and criticised the decision to move officers from Spring Gardens.
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He said: “By relocating the police station to a wholly inappropriate location we are not only losing valuable retail space but the valuable footfall that accompanies this as well. It just creates the wrong impression of what Accrington town centre has to offer and is ultimately all about.
“I am deeply disappointed for the residents of Hyndburn - this is policing on the cheap.”
Mr Horkin claimed patrol cars parked in front of Broadway station will take up valuable parking spaces currently used by shoppers. He also questioned whether the unit could cope with the installation of police communications equipment.
Mr Horkin has written to Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw questioning the decision. He has also raised his concerns with Home Secretary Theresa May.
He said: “Very few towns would accept this sub-optimal solution as the only acceptable solution for the location of their police station. I am unaware of any other large town in the UK where their police station has been re-opened in retail shop frontage.”
Michael Whewell, of Hyndburn Chamber of Trade, said he has some concerns about the move.
He said: “It won’t take up shoppers’ parking but it could potentially cause a problem for the market traders who park on the service yard.
“The fact that the station will be based in the town centre is a good thing because it gives a quicker response. But much further in the future the retail landscape could change completely and if the town is full again it could cause an issue.”
Jim Saron, who runs Baileys Menswear on Broadway, said a strong police presence will benefit retailers.
He said: “I can’t see parking being a major issue because there are spaces behind the market hall. At the moment there’s plenty of retail space available.”
Lancashire Police said it would cost an estimated £1.1m to refurbish the current station at Spring Gardens.
Police Commissioner Mr Grunshaw said a review of the Spring Gardens site, back in 2012, found the listed building requires extensive refurbishment which would be ‘prohibitively expensive’.
He said: “In addition the annual running costs are £115,000 per annum, paid from the police budget. Four spaces for patrol cars will be provided in the lease and the communications masts will be installed, although this is subject to planning permission. Estates officers have assessed this and consulted with planning and consider there are no reasons for permission not to be granted.”