Somerset’s Police & Crime Commissioner has said this week that Burnham-On-Sea Police Station is three times bigger than needed – and that’s one of the reasons why it’s due to close down.
Sue Mountstevens, right, officially launched her candidacy this week for May’s local elections to choose the next Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).
But the looming closure of Burnham’s Police Station – which was first reported by Burnham-On-Sea.com here last year – continues to be a key local issue on the campaign trail.
She told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “As your PCC for four years, I can see that much has been achieved but much remains to do to create a police force for our times. I have led the introduction of much greater transparency into Police processes, devoted protection for our most vulnerable (especially child sexual abuse and domestic abuse) and hit an all time low in number of burglaries. Local residents’ satisfaction with our Police has improved from 71% to 79%.”
“So far so good. However, our Avon & Somerset Police have had to find £60million savings over the last four years, and there is still at least £16million more to find before 2020.”
“It is ironic – almost laughable – that the Tory PCC candidate is criticising the downsizing of some police stations. The Tories have cut 17,000 police officers in England & Wales and imposed 20% cuts. If the Tory candidate retained the police stations that the police themselves do not want to keep open, where will his axe fall – fewer beat officers?”
She added: “The Burnham police station is three times larger than they need, say the Police themselves. This is inefficient.”
Somerset County Council is currently in discussions with the Police about a possible move into Burnham library.
She added: “The truth is that the Police are moving within Burnham – not leaving. Voters need to be very sure that whoever they choose to take up the role of the PCC has the managerial and leadership skills to lead a complex policing organisation. Clearly, not just a career politician.”
She continued: “To further improve residents’ accessibility to the Police, I have agreed to increase investment into the 101 number for non-emergencies. This will result in being able to get through quicker. Satisfaction from callers is high but we must answer the calls more quickly.”
“The Chief Constable and I want to strengthen our neighbourhood Police teams. We have agreed to recruit 128 Police Officers this year. I was delighted to attend the graduation of 16 Police Officers and 15 PCSO’s last month.”
“To fund more Police officers, we need to operate efficiently. That’s why I want to continue in co-locating with local authorities, fire and ambulance. Using your money wisely to reinvest. Remember for every £1million saved, 20 Police officers’ jobs are protected.”
“I want to protect our Police officers and staff. Residents’ confidence comes from seeing local officers and PCSO’s in local neighbourhoods. Robust and strong communities that look out for each other are safe communities. That is why I am a passionate supporter of Community Speed Watch and Neighbourhood Watch.”
“If given the opportunity to remain your PCC, I will continue to use your money wisely. I will support further collaborations with other forces sharing back offices. We need to reinvest these savings into tackling Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Abuse, crimes against our most vulnerable and Cybercrime.”
“So in Burnham and other rural towns I would ask the Chief Constable to deliver strong neighbourhood teams, embedded in our local communities, so that we can be safe and feel safe. Together we are stronger.”
But Mark Weston, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I do not support the closure of Burnham-On-Sea Police Station. I regard it as an important part of the fabric of community policing.”
“I believe that the station is especially important in the summer when people flock to Brean. The station serves as the hub for policing the massive increase in people coming to the area.”
“I believe that since the financial situation has improved over what was previously expected that we have the flexibility to review the planned closure plans and think again at how we best serve local communities across Somerset, including here in Burnham.”
The debate comes as residents across the Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge area will go to the polls for the PC election on Thursday 5th May.