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Police station to shut as West Midlands force cuts costs

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A police station is to shut and six sites are to be sold off or handed back to landlords under plans to save West Midlands Police hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Willenhall Police Station has been earmarked for closure by the force while others currently left vacant are to be sold off to raise £500,000 and cut £170,000 a year in running costs.

Under the plans most operations at Willenhall's John Street station will be transferred to Darlaston. A 'neighbourhood policing team' will be retained at a new drop-in facility in Willenhall.

In Brownhills the main station, which is vacant, will be sold, but the crime prevention training house next door will be kept.

Police bases in Birchills, Blakenall, the University of Wolverhampton campus in Walsall, Delves, and Ryecroft are already empty and will be disposed of - either through sale or given back to landlords.

Caldmore's 'police base' in Hope Street has already been handed back to its landlord but a replacement has been taken on from housing group Caldmore Accord.

The force's area commander for Walsall Chief Supt David Sturman said: "In response to government cuts to the policing budget, West Midlands Police needs to find substantial cost savings and a force wide review of police buildings is under way in order to identify where money can be saved.

"As part of this review, bases in Walsall have been assessed as to their ongoing suitability and cost-effectiveness, and many of our current buildings were found to be unfit for purpose and very costly to run."

"There are also plans to close Willenhall police station however we are seeking an alternative location with a partner to ensure the team can operate from a base in the town. Front offices are subject to a separate review and as yet, no decisions have been made.

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"I am confident these changes will still allow us to deliver a high standard of policing to local residents, while contributing towards the substantial savings the force needs to make now and in the years ahead."

It was previously announced that Walsall's Green Lane station will close next March with some neighbourhood teams moving to the Civic Centre, in Darwall Street, instead and main operations relocated to Bloxwich.

Critics opposed to the strategy claim it would be a backward step for policing in the borough.

Willenhall North's councillor Ian Shires said: "I oppose these plans. People in some parts of the town are already feeling remote from the police because of ongoing issues with anti-social behaviour now they're talking about closing the station. If that happens it will be a retrograde step.

"It might look good on paper for the force, but our experience in the Short Heath and New Invention areas is that we have just built up a good relationship with the new neighbourhood sergeant who has made a massive difference to tackling some of the issues. We are concerned that all this good work will be undone."

Sites to be retained include Aldridge station, Bloxwich and Darlaston.

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