Police '˜sorry' over station axe bungle
Police have said sorry after the force was slammed for announcing the axe of front counters at a number of stations with just a day's notice.
Front counters at Poulton and Kirkham were shut on Wednesday in a bid to save money – with St Annes and Bispham to close on March 29.
The sudden closures of Poulton and Kirkham counters were announced at 1pm the day before on official Lancashire Police Facebook accounts – with Fylde Council and the area’s MP unaware the axe was about to fall.
The date for St Annes’ and Bispham’s closure was only revealed when The Gazette contacted Lancashire Police’s press office.
Fylde Council leader Sue Fazackerley said: “I cannot believe that the council has not been officially informed of these closure dates.”
Today, a senior police officer admitted the force had bungled the announcement.
Insp Martin Bishop (pictured), of Lancashire Police, said: “The decision to close some of our front counters has not been taken lightly.
“It follows what has been a very thorough review and a period of staff and public consultation.
“That review showed a significant decline in visitor numbers – some down to changes in processes like immigration checks and some vehicle checks which have moved online, but in the main it is due to improved technology and greater use of phones.
“The front counters which will close serve between three and 10 people a day, while the demand on the contact centre is reaching around 2,500 calls a day.
“We announced the front counter review in June last year, with a further announcement in August confirming the stations to set for closure.
“This announcement confirmed closures would come into force in early 2018.
“Following this the Constabulary has been working to minimise the impact on affected staff.
“This has included consultation with unions and workers, ensuring they are redeployed to other roles.
“Due to the nature of these discussions, including establishing staff availability and finalising rotas, an announcement confirming closure dates for the sites – including Kirkham, Barnoldswick and Poulton on January 31 – was made this week.
“We do however acknowledge this information could have been released sooner and apologise for the delay.
“Members of the public in these affected areas will still be able to contact local officers, engage with local policing teams and gain the help and support they need; it is just the way they do it which will change.”
The Fylde coast’s stations were among 10 closures across Lancashire announced in September but no dates were given at the time.
Officers will continue to be based at the stations as normal.