‘Response times won’t change’ pledge as police move into new £21m headquarters

Work progresses on the new 21m police headquarters
Work progresses on the new 21m police headquarters
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The public won’t notice a difference to response times when resort police officers move into their new home in Marton, a top cop has promised.

Inspector Chris Hardy’s pledge came as he visited the new £21m headquarters in Clifton Road, where building work remains on target.

Work progresses on the new 21m police headquarters

Work progresses on the new 21m police headquarters

Officers will start gradually moving in from next May, with its cells expected to welcome their first prisoners from August.

And with the current nick in Bonny Street growing increasingly derelict, and a ‘mini police station’ featuring a front desk and interview rooms so officers can quiz suspects, set to stay in the town centre, Insp Hardy said: “There are no cons.

“The public should not notice any difference in operational responses or policing.

“Bonny Street is falling down. It has not been fit for purpose for 10 or 15 years; it’s in an appalling state.”

Estates Asset manager Claire Livesey

Estates Asset manager Claire Livesey

The new building will serve as headquarters for the county’s western division, which covers Blackpool, Fylde, Wyre, Lancaster, and Morecambe.

The site, occupied by the council’s Progress House, will also provide a base for some of the local policing and response teams as well as having a public inquiry desk, investigation hub and 42 custody cells.

It will also allow armed officers to work there.

Insp Hardy toured the state-of-the-art compound alongside fellow officers and contractors to see the building take shape.

They discussed how the open planned floors can be moved easily, future-proofing the station in case of any changes, while hot desks will mean visiting officers will be able to do their work easier.

Pictures show how workers are converting the concrete husk last photographed in September into interview rooms, a small medical unit, gym, and kitchen and dining area.

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, said previously: “It’s exciting to see this landmark building develop and to see the opportunities the project continues to bring to the local area.

“I am looking forward to seeing the build reach its final stages and have no doubt that it will provide a fantastic base for Lancashire Constabulary’s officers to serve residents in the west of the county in the future.

A £21m pot of cash has been set aside for the relocation of Bonny Street police station since 2012 after warnings the building was coming to the end of its useful life.

The current base in the town centre was built in 1976 and is in such a poor state it is literally dissolving – with lime leaching out and dripping onto cars, burning paintwork, before plastic sheeting was hastily put up.

Insp Hardy said: “We have detectives working three floors away from the reactive officers. “Everyone is working in the space in which they can be accommodated, rather than being the best place to do the job.

“The canteen is on the eighth floor, which gives you great views but if there’s a immediate need to get out on a job you’re eight floors away from the garage.”

The force did look at a number of other spots for a new base before they plucked for Clifton Road including, it is understood, the old Devonshire Road hospital site.

“There were eight or nine sites that we did feasibility studies on, and this was everything we needed, in terms of space and size.”

With good transport links, easy access to one of Blackpool’s main roads and plenty of space to develop, the new site was a clear winner.

And Insp Hardy believes Blackpool will have the best of both worlds.

“We’ve worked out it will have no impact on response times,” he said. “Now if you’re in a car, you’re straight out into Blackpool’s main car park. “On an Illuminations night you can be sitting and waiting to get out, even then it’s into a jam.

“It’s not ideal. It’s another benefit of the move to Clifton Road.”

Police bought the Clifton Road site for £2.2m from Blackpool Council, which in turn is buying the Bonny Street site for £3.2m as part of its assembly of land towards potential development of the Central Station site.