EASTWOOD Police Station is facing the axe if the force can find a big enough replacement community base in the town, a top cop revealed this week.
Chief Inspector Richard Stapleford said the only reason Eastwood had not been earmarked for closure yet was because the police force was struggling to find somewhere big enough to house all 40 officers currently based at the station.
Sgt Andy Browning at Eastwood Police Station admitted both Morrisons and Durban House had been looked at as potential new bases for the officers, but the rooms at both locations had been too small.
He said there was currently nowhere for the officers to go, but ‘if somewhere were to come free, it would be looked at’.
“There has to be a big enough place,” Sgt Browning said. “I even suggested the new youth club but that was a no.
“We can’t spread them out across several locations like we have done in Kimberley because everything is in Eastwood. There’s just nowhere at the present time.”
Eastwood town councillors called a meeting after hearing the news where they decided they would survey residents views.
Leader of the council David Bagshaw said the questionnaires would be followed up with a campaign to keep the station open if that is what the townsfolk wanted.
“First we are going to simply ask people if they want the station to close. We need to establish that first,” he said.
“We (councillors) certainly don’t want it to close because we have a high crime rate.
“You’ve only got to look at the two armed robberies we’ve just had to see that we need it.”
The news was revealed in a meeting between senior police officers, the Police Authority and Kimberley Town Council last Friday to discuss the closure of Kimberley Police Station.
At the meeting, Chf Insp Stapleford outlined the criteria that stations across the county had to meet to fall into the ‘under threat’ list.
He said demand for services at the station had to be low, there had to be capital tied up in the building, the building had to be costly to run and there had to be an alternative location for officers to operate from.
And he revealed the only criteria that Eastwood fell short on was the fact that a community base had not been found – leading him to admit it would be shut if alternative accommodation could be found.
“The only reason why we don’t have them on this latest closure list is because we can’t find alternative accommodation for the response team and the other officers,” he said.
“When somewhere is found it will be put forward for closure.”
But Eastwood Mayor Ken Woodhead echoed the concerns Kimberley councillors had ahead of their station closure being announced.
“I think the police are pulling the wool over our eyes,” he said.
“They are not telling the truth. At the council meeting recently they said nothing would happen to Eastwood, but then they say this.
“We are in the dark. We need to know where they (the police) are coming from and what they are doing. We need some answers and we are not getting them.”
Cllr Woodhead said the closure would cause anti-social behaviour to ‘rocket’ and said there would be ‘a hell of a lot of problems’.
Nottinghamshire Police has got to save £40m over the next four years. Last year the force closed 11 stations and last week it was announced that another 12, including Kimberley, are earmarked for closure, along with 24 of the county’s 42 front counter receptions – with a final decision expected in September.