‘Fight to keep your officers’

Public meeting over proposals to close Kirkham Police Station
Public meeting over proposals to close Kirkham Police Station
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RESIDENTS were called on to have their say on police station closures – before it is too late.

More than 60 people packed into Kirkham Community Centre to discuss proposals for the town’s police station.

The front counter of the station is facing the axe as part of Lancashire Police cost cutting.

Fears about a less visible police presence, difficulty contacting officers and the impact on elderly residents are running high.

Chief Supt Richard Debicki attempted to allay the fears during the meeting – part of a 12-week consultation exercise.

But Coun Liz Oades, said: “I believe very strongly the inquiry desk should stay open. If the station is to stay open anyway, the personnel costs will be minimal to keep it manned and it is important for the town.

“I would urge everybody to get a form from the police station or community centre and vote to keep it open.”

Residents questioned the decision to recently refurbish Kirkham Police Station while others said they had concerns about the police phone system which means calls can be diverted around Lancashire.

Chief Supt Debicki explained the rationale behind the proposal saying on average, just two people per hour use the front counter.

He said more people were choosing to contact police using mobile phones, email or approaching officers in person.

He added: “We have an obligation to move with the times to make sure we are using taxpayer’s money effectively.”

He spoke to reassure residents Kirkham station would continue to be manned and they would have easy access to police officers.

But Roy Lennie, 77, from Millbank Avenue said: “I’m worried this is simply the thin end of the wedge, when the desk closes. I worry the station will be next.

“Kirkham has a large elderly population and I worry about old ladies struggling to get hold of someone.”

Graham Cardwell, 57, added: “I think the desk will go and I am certainly not happy about that. I worry though, if these cuts aren’t made, front line staff will go and that’s an enormous worry.”

Supt Richard Debicki said he was pleased with the meeting. He added: “It was constructive. People raised their concerns and we have taken them on board.”

Lancashire Police is proposing to close Poulton, Cleveleys, Lytham and Freckleton police stations and closing the front desks at South Shore, Kirkham and Bispham, as the force attempts to save £42m over the next four years.