Furious reaction from MP as police station closure proposals are revealed

Kettering police station, Northamptonshire
Kettering police station, Northamptonshire

Plans to shut Kettering, Wellingborough and Rushden’s existing town centre police stations are being considered.

The long-term future of Corby’s police station is also unsure after police finance bosses recommended to Police Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds that all four town police stations are closed to free-up cash to pay for a modern custody unit and northern headquarters in Kettering.

Rushden Police Station

Rushden Police Station

Each town would still have a police desk at, as yet, undecided locations.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that modern police cells serving the north of the county would be based at a new site off the A6003 in Kettering. But yesterday police bosses said they wanted to go further and base more offices at the site - meaning that large parts of town centre police stations would become redundant.

This afternoon (Friday) Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Andy Sawford reacted to the plans by vowing to fight any plans to close Corby Police Station.

He said: “After months of denials Adam Simmonds has finally admitted that the future of Corby Police station is under review.

Corby Police Station

Corby Police Station

“The writing is on the wall and we must fight the downgrading of policing in Corby before it is too late.

“Weasel words from the Police Commissioner about options and consultation are not good enough. The starting point for any constructive discussion about the future must be an absolute assurance that response police officers will be based in Corby alongside safer communities teams.

“Anything less than that will leave Corby as the largest town in the country without a proper police station.

“I am also concerned about the impact of closures of other police stations on the East Northants and will be asking questions about this.”

Wellingborough Police Station

Wellingborough Police Station

Wellingborough and Rushden MP Peter Bone admitted he had not been told about the plans before being contacted by the Northants Telegraph. He said he was planning to speak to Mr Simmonds to discover more, and would speak to constituents to ask them their opinions on the situation.

He said: “I haven’t heard anything about the plans to close police stations.

“It may well be that there is an ongoing review about where the police stations are situated.

“I am not so much interested in bricks and mortar than in whether we’ve got officers out on the beat.

“It is a huge debate. I want to see the best police service we can have in Wellingborough and Rushden and what that model looks like is part of the debate.

“I’ll listen to my constituents, police officers and Adam Simmonds. We want to make sure that what’s left at the end of it is better than what we started with.”

The plans were revealed in a document written by Northamptonshire Police head of finance and asset management and the head of estates and facilities which makes several hard-hitting recommendations for consideration by Police Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds.

The report, which has not yet been consulted on and is still subject to change, says: “It should be noted at this stage that once the construction phase is completed and migration has taken place, we would be vacating outdated buildings, at Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Rushden, and they would be removed from the estate as soon as practicably possible to maximise the savings.

“The sites would immediately be declared as surplus to our requirements, which would ensure a smooth exit strategy is in place with Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCTS) as tenants of cell areas, or as in the case of Wellingborough, the entire court building.

“The remaining courts at Corby and Kettering are reliant on our infrastructure to operate and further discussions will take place to ensure we support the process in the appropriate way.

“For the purpose of financial planning we have allowed up to three years for disposal of all four outdated buildings, factoring in time for further planning and marketing.”

It is expected that the cost of running the new, bigger Kettering HQ over the next 25 years would be £2.29m less than running all of the existing buildings alongside the already-agreed custody suite at Kettering.

Today Adam Simmonds insisted that no decision had been taken but admitted plans to find new homes for Rushden’s North Street station, Kettering’s London Road station and Wellingborough’s Midland Road station had already started progressing. Discussions are afoot to base Kettering’s station at the borough council’s Bowling Green Road office, and Rushden and Wellingborough stations at each of the town’s fire stations.

But Mr Simmonds said that Corby would remain open for the next three years, and it was unlikely that any decision to close the station would be taken during his first term as PCC.

He said: “We are building a new custody suite and northern headquarters and police officers will be moving around the county.

“This report is our professional property people saying these are the buildings you’d consider getting rid of. It’s telling me what my options are.

“The ambition is to build the northern HQ by 2017.

“I don’t want to close any police stations until such time we have got new locations for police officers to be based in each area.

“In the case of Corby, we might look at keeping our safer community teams and our response team in Corby and might look at CID going to the new accommodation in Kettering. But at the moment I am not closing Corby Police Station.

“In Kettering, Rushden and Wellingborough, plans are being worked on to locate police stations in different buildings.

“It’s less about closing the stations, it’s more about where our police officers need to be.”

Rushden Police Station has a large amount of asbestos and is considered by Mr Simmonds to be in a poor location. Similarly, Mr Simmonds Wellingborough Police Station is showing its age.

He added that people do not physically walk into police stations in high numbers.

Chief Constable Adrian Lee said: “The new accommodation hub will enable us to consolidate our existing estate and bring together a number of functions under one roof. Together with the custody centre, it will be the main operational base for policing in the north of the county.

“The existing police buildings in Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Rushden town centres are inefficient and old, and we have taken this into consideration in our plans for development.

“We are committed to retaining a policing presence in our towns and local policing services will remain local. This is not simply about a specific building and we will work with our partners to find the best solution for each community.”

Planning permission for the Police Investigation Centre was granted by Kettering Borough Council in February 2014 and the 2.4 acre site was purchased in March.

An additional 3.7 acre site was purchased in June to enable further development and will now accommodate the proposed Northern Accommodation Hub.

Plans are now being prepared and members of the project team and local police officers will be visiting neighbouring businesses over the next few weeks, to tell people about the plans and give them the opportunity to comment on the proposals.

A planning application will be put before Kettering Borough Council early 2015 and, if planning permission is granted, it is anticipated that work on the site will begin towards the end of next year.

The full report can be viewd here