St Albans police station move is 'totally unacceptable' says councillor (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)
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St Albans police station move is 'totally unacceptable' says councillor
St Albans police station will move to the city’s council offices, despite councillors calling the move to save money "totally unacceptable".
A police advice and information point will now be provided at the public reception in the Civic Centre, which will be run by council staff following a last night’s decision during a St Albans District Council planning meeting.
This decision comes after the front inquiry desk of St Albans Police Station, Victoria Street was closed in a bid to save cash, in July last year.
Councillor Chris Brazier, planning committee member, voted against the approval branding it "totally unacceptable".
He said: "I will vote against this. I think it is a very good idea and administration have managed to pull off a stunt, but we are just losing a place the public can go to.
"We have already lost police stations in London Colney, Bushey and Potters Bar.
"I think it is totally unacceptable that we are closing down police stations. Obviously it is to save money and I understand it completely, but you could still have a house with a blue lamp outside it that somebody could go to.
"We have changed the phone number from 999 and unless it’s an emergency you’ve got to ring 101. How many members of the public know that?
"I just think where are we going with all this? Where can a member of public feel safe and they can go in to a police station at night when they have been burgled, raped, assaulted - there is nowhere now.
"This police station will only be open during council hours. It is not going to be open late at night for 24 hours.
"So I am sorry and I realise the administration have done the best deal trying to keep a police presence in the city centre but I am not happy about it and I have ranted about it for over two years and I will keep ranting about it."
As part of the plans the ground floor of the civic centre will be adapted to form an open-plan office, as well as part of the basement of the building, which will provide a locker room, shower and change area and communications room.
A new entrance door, near St Peters Street side will also be provided. Five police cars will have spaces to park to the west of the building and behind properties in St Peters Street.
Bricket Road car park will also provide 30 spaces for police cars and two spaces for motorcycles, as well as the installation of a security barrier to the car park at ground floor level and sliding security gates to rear designated basement parking area
There will be no custody suite or holding cells at the new police station but it will be used 24-hours a day.
Councillor Geoff Harrison described the decision to install fencing around the car park as ‘over the top’.
He said: "Car parking places in the basement are used by joe public, so joe public is losing car parking spaces.
"Secondly council officers here and members when they come in on business on the top two floors and joe public can wander around there without any problem.
"The police are saying they have got to have fences up to protect their staff car parking places. I think this is a bit OTT. "
Councillor Salih Gaygusuz said it was "better than nothing."
He said: "I would like to echo what Councillor Brazier concerns on this application. It’s been many years that we have been losing public services and this is not going to be the last one that we are going to lose.
"I wouldn’t have actually minded as a result of losing public services we end up paying less taxes. I would have probably accepted a loss of public services. After all when we pay for services that the government provides for us, we are paying for libraries, ambulances and hospitals.
"We keep losing them but we are still paying the same sums in to the kitty.
"On the other hand the existing police station is not open to the public anyway, so as a result of this move there will be a benefit.
"There will be a walk in desk, so although it is going to be open until 6pm or 8pm, it will be a gain to the district because I can’t see the old police station opening to the public.
"So I suppose I have no option to support it- It will be better than nothing."
The move was passed on the condition that work will have to begin within three years of granting permission.
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