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6 March 2019, 14:41 | Updated: 6 March 2019, 14:44
The MP for Cambridge has raised concerns about plans to shut the city's main police base.
The Police Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, Jason Ablewhite says the ageing Parkside Police Station could be replaced with a brand-new site on the outskirts.
City Council leader Lewis Herbert has backed MP Daniel Ziechner's concerns - saying the Cambridge needs 24 hour policing - and a publicly accessible 'police station' must continue in the centre at least 16 hours a day.
Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Cambridge City Council, and Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Cllr for Communities and Policing, have raised serious concerns about the announcement that plans are proceeding to close Parkside Police Station and that a new site for a county station is being reviewed on the outskirts of the city.
Mr Zeichner MP said:
"As the MP for Cambridge my priority is ensuring that residents have the police support and protection that they need. I know from communications I receive from constituents that police presence is a real concern in the city, so I am going to need assurances that this will not result in a further decline of visible policing in Cambridge."
It is vital that there is a continued police presence in the city centre to ensure that the public have access to the police and that there is no impact on response times to crime reported in the city. City residents are become increasingly concerned about security in the city centre - any changes must not do anything to add to these insecurities."
Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Cambridge City Council, said:
"Given its challenges, Cambridge needs 24 hour policing, and an end to year after year cuts to neighbourhood policing, which means that a publicly accessible 'police station' must continue in the centre at least 16 hours a day to ensure continuous city officer presence."
Councillor Anna Smith, Executive Cllr for Communities and Policing added:
"The people of Cambridge will understandably be very concerned by this news, and the Police and Crime Commissioner's vague comments about a 'public contact point' are hardly reassuring. Cambridge needs clear guarantees that we will keep a strong police presence in a dedicated and publicly-accessible city centre station, which is able to respond at least 16 hours a day. We also need to know that there will be a city-based vehicle hub so that the police can respond as quickly as possible to serious incidents in the city."
Last year the Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, stated that the Parkside Police Station had a value of £35m and annual running cost of £4m.
The Police and Crime Commissioner has been working with the team over the last year to explore possible sites that would replace Parkside Police Station.
An Option Agreement has been signed with The Ely Diocese which allows Cambridgeshire Constabulary to carry out exploratory work and conduct ground surveys on a site on the outskirts of Cambridge.
Police Commissioner Ablewhite said:
“Whilst Parkside Police Station has provided a good service since it was constructed in 1967, its location means it is no longer in the best place given the associated problems of travelling in and out of the city.
The layout of the building does not meet modern policing requirements and the number of custody cells and ancillary facilities needs increasing.
This project will allow us to build a new station which better meets the operational needs of the Constabulary.
I have sought assurance from the Chief Constable that community policing and a Public Contact Point will remain in the city centre.”
“Before any planning permission is sought, I will be holding a period of public consultation in order to listen to the views of local residents and stakeholders, the dates of which will be announced in due course.
“Whilst this project is ongoing, I want to reassure you that Parkside Police Station will remain operational until the new station is completed.”