Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner says there is a Plan B to ensure the space is filled in an underused police station she decided to save.
Plans to close Newark Police Station in Queen’s Road and move police officers and staff to a purpose-built building at Newark and Sherwood District Council offices were almost a done deal.
Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, Craig Guildford, said the current station was 75 per cent underused and the move would save the force £103,000 a year.
The new build at Newark and Sherwood District Council Offices in Castle House would be £1.7m. The Government had planned to fund part of the new development to the tune of £1m.
But when Paddy Tipping (Lab) lost the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in May 2021 to Caroline Henry (Con) she quickly announced she wanted to halt the move.
She said it was important to hear people’s views locally before any decision could be made and she was “a listening commissioner”.
In total, 911 people responded to the survey – with 726 people voting against the move, 135 people voting in favour of the move and 50 people stating they did not know.
This means that just over two per cent of Newark’s total population responded to the public survey.
Councillors quizzed Mrs Henry about the decision at a Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Panel at County Hall on Monday, November 15.
She said: “I am really keen to keep that building’s presence in Newark. We have come up with a Plan B and to make the money work.”
Independent member Lesley Dalby said: “It is like M&S – it is closing down and then people start saying ‘can we keep it open? but were never using it.
“While they may want to keep it open where is the data saying it is worth keeping open?”
Mrs Henry responded: “There is the public opinion. I know what the site costs and I know what it is was going to be sold at and I know how much a new police station would cost even if we got help with it.
“I had to make sure I made a good decision.”
Cllr Scott Carlton (Cons), from Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “Plan B – what is Plan B and what does it look like?”
Mrs Henry said she would not discuss Plan B while there was a period of negotiation but it was “a sound financial decision”.
However, Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, Craig Guildford, gave more away and said a number of conversations were happening with ‘a third sector partner’ to fill the underused space.
Cllr Neghat Khan (Lab), from Nottingham City Council, questioned the public survey stressing: “We have seen lots of police stations close so how was this different?”
Cllr Kevin Greaves (Lab), from Bassetlaw District Council, added: “I am bemused by the building being half empty and how is that going to affect the running of the building itself? It will be very interesting to see what you do with this building.”
But Cllr Andre Camilleri (Cons), from Nottinghamshire County Council, said he felt the decision to keep the police station open was what the majority of people in Newark wanted.