Anger over police station closures in Caerphilly County Borough
Anger has been expressed by politicians in Caerphilly County Borough at plans to close police stations in Caerphilly, Ystrad Mynach, Bargoed, Bedwas, Rhymney and Risca to the public.
Newport Central Station will be the only one in Gwent which will be open 24-hours a day but Blackwood will continue to open to the public from 8am until 8pm every day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday.
Alan Pritchard, leader of the council, said: “This has come as a bombshell and without due consultation with this local authority. It really does throw consultation out of the window and severely damages the proposals of Ministers for integration and collaboration.
“This will be damaging to all the communities we represent and we in Plaid will fight against these proposals.
“I’m sure the public will be very concerned to learn that they will no longer be able to access major stations such as Caerphilly and Ystrad Mynach.”
Gwent’s seven Labour MPs issued a statement following the announcement.
The statement said: “We are appalled by Gwent Police’s decision to downgrade or close 17 of its police stations. We are particularly incensed by the Chief Constable’s refusal to consult with elected representatives, the Police Authority and, most importantly, members of the public.
“We recognise that the fault for these closures and staff losses rests squarely with central government, but such fundamental changes in policing need to be the subject of consultation. This has not happened.
“We are seeking a meeting with the Chief Constable as a matter of urgency. We believe that local, neighbourhood policing is essential .We will be strongly urging the Chief Constable to ‘think again’, understand the needs of local communities and to withdraw the closure programme.”
Councillor Ron Davies, who is considering standing for election as a police commissioner later this year, added: “Public access to the Police is an important safeguard in maintaining public confidence, enabling effective communication and ensuring proper accountability of the Police themselves.
“Speaking to an anonymous person via a hole in the wall or a static telephone will not provide even the minimum required standard. The decision to close police stations without public discussion and without consulting on what alternatives might be available is a wrong decision and the wrong way of making decisions.
“This is a key strategic issue of public contact with and confidence in the police and should not have been made in this way and especially with only 6 months to go before a new system of public accountability is introduced via the new Elected Commissioner.”
Christopher Wright, who is standing for election as Police Commissioner for Gwent, has defended the closure plans.
Writing on his blog in response to Plaid he said: “The police service in Gwent is going through extraordinary times and it is being led through these times by often courageous decisions.
“Plaid Cymru, and particularly Mr Davies, should stop criticising then seek dialogue with their Chief Officers and ascertain exactly why this decision is proportionate and right.
“Unlike Mr Davies I attended this weeks Police Authority Service Delivery meeting but was disappointed they did not support this measure.
Gwent Police are making huge commitments to maintain a wonderful community policing ethos that is a credit to their officers. This commitment to community policing and neighbourhood interaction is paying real dividends in the reduction of crime AND the reduction in the fear of crime.
“A police station is a building that serves no real purpose.
“I note Mr Davies said nothing about ‘closing’ Caerphilly police station
“A police officer is a person committed to helping the communities of Caerphilly and Gwent and with the costs involved I would rather have the person before the business.”