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Newton Aycliffe Police look to fire station as town centre base
THE long-running saga of a community’s police station rumbled on this week, after plans for a new build in the town centre were replaced with an office in the fire station.
Durham Police is considering moving the Newton Aycliffe beat team from Parson’s Court, on the town’s industrial estate, to the fire station on Central Avenue, following calls for a central police presence.
If it goes ahead, the move could save the police around £100,000 per year, which would be invested into maintaining police officers and possibly increasing the number of police and community support officers.
The new facility would act as a base for officers and would also have a front counter that was open the same hours as Parson’s Court, as well as a 24-hour phone for reporting incidents.
However, the news has not been welcomed by everyone.
In February, following a campaign by Great Aycliffe Residents Association (GARA), Durham’s police and crime commissioner, Ron Hogg, announced he was setting aside £500,000 for a purpose-built police station on the old Central Avenue site.
Syd Howarth, chairman of GARA, said Mr Hogg had gone back on his earlier promise.
“It is diabolical,” he said. “I thought they would at least have called a meeting to discuss it with residents before making an announcement.”
Newton Aycliffe has been without a central police base since February 2011 when the old station was declared unfit for purpose.
Budget cuts meant plans to build a new station were shelved, and, following a fresh wave of cuts this June, the commissioner has been forced to reassess the situation again.
Mr Hogg said he would be happy to hold a public meeting to discussing policing in Newton Aycliffe and stressed that the new plans had not been finalised.
“The Government announced in June that the force will lose even more money than they previously indicated,” he said. “This means that we are having a fresh look at all the options.”
Newton Aycliffe Neighbourhood Inspector Mark Hall said the shared facility would offer the same service and presence as a separate building.
“We are looking forward to being back in a central location and also working more closely with one of our partner agencies,” he added.
The plans are being finalised with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Authority and it is hoped the new facility will open next year.
The old site would be sold off for economic development.
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