WEST Midlands Police have come under fire from Northfield MP Richard Burden after announcing Longbridge Police Station will be closed if money-saving proposals are given the go ahead.
Mr Burden said the move, along with the similar shutting of Kings Norton and Bartley Green stations, would mean there would be no police stations in the immediate area of his Northfield constituency and the nearest one would be Bournville Lane.
“In the recent debate I held in Parliament on September 8, I and other Labour MPs warned about the consequences of Governments cuts to Police funding. We are now seeing those warnings become reality. You can read more about the debate here.
“The blame for all this lies not with West Midlands Police, but with the Conservative Government which will has cut £130million from the budget by 2020.
“West Midlands Police are being put in an impossible position – faced with cutting numbers of officers or closing offices.
“Faced with that choice, it is not surprising that they have prioritised front line policing above buildings in an effort to keep officers on the street.
“The trouble is, it’s not likely to end here, as cuts from the Government are set to bite even deeper in the years to come.”
Coun Andy Cartwright echoed Mr Burden’s calls saying, with the busy Northfield town centre and the ever developing Longbridge town centre a police presence was needed.
He called for a police station to be created in the new Longbridge town centre.
West Midlands Police announced it would be closing 28 police stations within the next two years in a bid to save £8.5million.
None of the stations scheduled for closure have front counters but they are used as a base for officers policing south west Birmingham.
The forcewide estates review started in 2012. At the start of the review there were 146 buildings at an annual running cost of £18.9 million.
The current estate of 124 buildings costs £16 million a year to run and moving out of the additional 28 buildings will reduce the overall running costs by a further £1.3million.
ACC Michele Larmour, force lead for local policing, said: “Many of these sites have been part of the police estate for a number of years and as such, we understand local communities may feel a connection to specific buildings.
“However many of our buildings have high running costs, are poorly located and are not fit for future operational purposes.
“The force’s ambition as we move forward is to ensure a high quality policing service to the people of the West Midlands.
“It is vital we continue to question how much we invest in our estate and continue to maximise the service we provide to our communities. None of these sites are open to the public and it’s important to remember policing is about people not buildings.”
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “As the cuts continue to bite we are faced with some really tough decisions.
“The Government has consistently continued to disproportionately cut funding in the West Midlands and the challenge is how we maintain the service that the public comes into contact with.
“I will wait to hear the full report from West Midlands Police on this in early October but my view is that we must do all we can to support officer numbers.
“If that can be achieved by reducing the police estate further then that should be given serious consideration.”
The proposals were due to go before the Police and Crime Commissioner at his Strategic Police and Crime board yesterday (Tuesday).
If the proposals are given approval, a range of engagement activity will take place over the coming months to ensure the proposals are shared with the local communities they affect.