Fylde police station front counter closures shock

St Annes Police Station
St Annes Police Station
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The number of police stations open to the public on the Fylde coast could halve under new cost-cutting proposals.

Dwindling footfall and budget cuts are behind new plans aimed at saving £1.4m by 2020 across Lancashire.

Residents are now being consulted on the proposals to shut police station front counters in Bispham, Poulton, St Annes and Kirkham.

Public inquiry desks would remain open in Blackpool and Fleetwood, while a new town centre desk is due to open when the force’s divisional headquarters moves from Bonny Street to Clifton Road.

The shock news comes just days after retiring Chief Constable Steve Finnigan spoke out saying cuts to his force had gone too far, making the public less safe.

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, has warned more savings will have to be made on top of the £72.2m already delivered since the Government’s austerity measures were first introduced.

“I want to reassure our communities this review will not change the way areas are policed,” said Commissioner Grunshaw.

“Front counters are not staffed by police officers and this review will not impact on police numbers.

“Of course, these changes are taking place as part of the way the Constabulary looks to manage the continuing cuts to its funding by Government.”

Police say the number of people using front counters at stations across Lancashire is continuing to fall, as more crimes are being reported by phone or online.

“In some stations as few as three people per day have visited on core business, leaving the Constabulary with little option but to review the service,” said a statement from the force.

“This review will not result in any station closures, nor change the way areas are policed, but it will deliver £1.4m of the £19.8m in savings the police need to find by 2020.

“The proposals are based on detailed analysis of current use and are supported by a range of improvements to other contact methods such as telephone and online crime reporting.”

Lancashire Police currently spend £2.8m on counter services, so the planned cuts will halve that bill.

The force says fewer crimes are now reported via police stations, but demand on the telephone contact centre continues to grow with more than 2,400 calls dealt with every day.

Kirkham councillor Liz Oades said: “I am appalled at the prospect of even less police presence in Kirkham.

“We already very rarely see an officer in the town these days and since community policing was discontinued here two or three years ago, we have seen a huge rise in criminal damage and other offences.

“It is especially difficult to take when we see the numbers of officers at the fracking site not so far away.”

Coun Alf Clempson, who represents Poulton on Lancashire County Council, said: “This is a vital face to face point of contact and would be missed if it were to close.

“However, I am working very hard, along with Wyre Council, to have two police officers based in the town.”

Bispham councillor Colin Maycock said: “I do not think they should close it.

“The front counters provide a vital service for the public.

“When Lancashire Police is building a multi-million pound headquarters at the other end of town it should not be talking about closing other public facilities.

“I will fight for the people of Bispham if they want to see the counter remain.”

Commissioner Grunshaw added: “The public has been voting with their feet for some time and the front counters proposed for closure only serve three to 10 people a day.”

Chief Supt Peter Lawson, the officer responsible for the review, said: “Our enquiry desk staff perform a valuable role and this needs to be maintained, but not at the current level which far outweighs demand.”