Counter claim at police closure

Lytham Police Station.
Lytham Police Station.

LYTHAM Police Station’s front counter shuts for the last time this weekend – with those responsible for the closure claiming it will lead to a better service.

The station in Clifton Street is one of 14 police front counters across the county which will be closed to the public from Monday and Lytham station is set to shut altogether when the lease on the building runs out in three years’ time.

The closure at Lytham , part of a bid by Lancashire Police to save £43m by 2015, comes despite a concerted bid by campaigners in the town to keep their station open.

Now, the force claims that although some residents may have to travel further, the remaining front counters will offer better opening hours and more services.

But campaigners who fought for the service are sceptical about the promise.

Coun Tim Ashton, who worked to save Lytham’s front counter and is standing for the role of police commissioner, said: “They are trying to put a positive spin on a negative story.

“But at the end of the day the police have to make savings and I understand why they have had to make this one.

“The argument has to be the resources could be used more effectively to fight crime than manning the front desk, but it is a difficult argument.”

Police will remain stationed at Lytham following the front office closure, but the public will no longer be able to make routine inquiries.

From next week, the nearest available front counter will be St Annes, open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 6pm, with a lunch break from between 2pm to 3pm. The same hours apply at Kirkham.

Chief Supt Sarah Oldham of Lancashire Police said: “The changes to front counter provision were necessary, not just to save money but also to bring some level of consistency to the level of service provided to the public.

“We fully appreciate that where closures happen the public may be concerned but the majority of people will have less than five miles to travel to an alternative front counter where they should experience a much better quality of service.”

She stressed the public can also contact the police in others ways, including calling 101 for routine incidents and the Yellow Phone facility outside a station that isn’t open.