Battle stations to save police counters

St Annes Police Station, where the counter is threatened with closure
St Annes Police Station, where the counter is threatened with closure

The battle to save Fylde’s last remaining police station front counters is being stepped up with the consultation deadline little more than a week away.

MP Mark Menzies is sending a formal objection to the proposals by Lancashire Police and Crime Commission Clive Grunshaw which would see public access at St Annes and Kirkham closed along with eight other inquiry desks across the county.

Meanwhile, the matter is to be discussed by Fylde Council at its full meeting on Monday and St Annes Town Council members are to consider a call by Chamber of Trade co-ordinator Arnold Sumner to launch a petition to fight the highly-controversial plans.

The issue was also considered at a public meeting in Kirkham on Wednesday night - as Mr Grunshaw’s office confirmed that the deadline for public input into the proposals is July 21.

The proposals, part of a bid to save £1.4m by 2020, have already been slammed as ‘a disgraceful decision’ by Fylde Council leader Sue Fazackerley.

The matter is on the agenda for Monday’s meeting, when councillors will consider he following notice of motion by Kirkham councillior Liz Oades: “That this Council calls on the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner to reassess his policing priorities to ensure that Fylde’s community policing is returned to the levels previously expected, enjoyed and experienced by its residents.”

Meanwhile, Mr Menzies has met with the Unison trade union which represents civilians working for Lancashire Police and has raised concerns over the figures used to justify the proposed closures.

Mr Menzies said: “Closing these counters in Kirkham and St Annes will put further pressure on the call handlers who deal with 101 calls, and will affect confidence in the police force.

“I’m also aware that the Police and Crime Commissioner’s evidence that the front counters were under-used is based on a one-week survey in November.

“That cannot be right, especially in St Annes’ case, when we are dealing with a tourism resort that sees a huge influx of people in summer months.”

Mr Sumner used the public form at Tuesday’s meeting of St Annes Town Council to make the following plea:

“Thousands of St Annes households pay a proportion of their council tax to the police authority to protect them and provide access to their services.

“Denying access to the front counter is taking away the services that we expect and rely on for our safety and security.”

St Annes town mayor Coun Karen Henshaw said the matter would be looked into - and expressed her own concerns.

“Personally, I find the proposals to close the front counters very concerning,” she said.

“I understand a number of volunteers are used to many the counters and how about encouraging more volunteers to come forward to help keep them open, as with the libraries?”

Contributions to the consultation are requested in writing to the Commissioner’s office, Front Counter Review, County Hall, Pitt Street, Preston PR1 0LD or via email to commissioner@lancashire-pcc.gov.uk with the subject line marked ‘Front Counter Review’. Deadline for responses is Friday, July 21.