LANCASHIRE Constabulary has announced which of its front counters will close to the public next summer.
Barnoldswick police station’s front counter has been saved in an about-turn by the Force but Earby’s police shop will be sold off as planned and, while officers will continue to work out of Brierfield Police Station, it will be closed to the public.
Police chiefs announced the outcome of a three-month public consultation over the weekend, revealing they would keep more front counters open to the public than originally planned, closing 14 instead of 21 of its 38 counters.
More than 11,000 people across the county expressed views on the potential closures, needed to help the Force save £42m. by April, 2015.
Chief Supt. Clive Tattum, responsible for Pennine Division said: “Despite the very difficult financial position the Constabulary finds itself in, and the disappointment some people will feel about the closures, I am pleased a decision has been taken to change the original recommendation in respect of Barnoldswick front counter and keep it open. The public access points at Burnley, Nelson and Colne will remain unaffected.”
As part of the cost-saving exercise, a new tiered system has been introduced for front counter opening hours. Nelson and Colne front counters will be open seven days a week between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Barnoldswick will be open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and close between 2 and 3 p.m.
Mr Finnigan said: “Because of what we have done around opening hours, we have actually taken out more money.
“Although we have had to make some very difficult decisions in respect of closing some of our public counters and buildings, we have also been able to keep more than we had hoped for, and the results of the public consultation have certainly helped us to do this, along with considerations such as value for money and effectiveness, the operational impact of closures, visitor numbers and the availability of alternative venues.”
Mr Finnigan admitted the Force faces tough times ahead, with 800 jobs expected to be lost.
“I would like to have sat here and said we have had a higher level of protection from the Government but we also have to make our contribution to reduce that national debt.
“I am hearing from people every day that the cuts are beginning to bite but I think it is an opportunity to change the way we do things, without breaking the business.
“We want to make sure Lancashire Constabulary is still recognisable in the future. The claim you can cut 20% out and leave the front line untouched is a lot of tosh. You can’t do that but we have worked really hard to minimise the impact on the front line services.
“We continue to focus on outcomes and service delivery and have determination, even in times of austerity, to detect crime and protect people.”
Chairman of Lancashire’s Police Authority Malcolm Doherty said: “We have to bear in mind it is people, not buildings, who cut crime and we are determined Lancashire communities will continue to receive good policing services, despite the financial climate. Many of the buildings concerned were constructed in a different era, and policing has evolved beyond recognition since then, with different requirements.
“We are confident that, as a result of these plans, neighbourhood policing will still be delivered in communities and people wishing to access police services will be able to do so easily and quickly.”
Unison branch secretary Maureen Le Marinel added: “This has been one of the most difficult reviews the Constabulary has undertaken. Unison welcomed both the extensive consultation process with the communities, and the open and honest approach to that process with the staff affected. We do not believe the Force or Police Authority have paid lip service to this process as significant changes to the original recommendations plans have been made.”
Full story and reactions in this week’s paper