Dudley set to get new multi-million pound police ‘super station’
West Midlands Police is set to build a new multi-million pound ‘super station’ on land in Dudley once earmarked for a mosque.
The force has thrashed out a deal to buy the sprawling plot in Hall Street which currently houses a derelict factory.
The new station will become Dudley borough’s main police base, replacing Brierley Hill station, which the Express & Star understands is due to close, as police bosses no longer consider it fit for purpose.
Detailed plans are yet to be revealed, although it is understood the site will include a front desk that is accessible for the public.
Demolition work at the Hall Street site is due to start next year, with a planned opening set for 2021.
Dudley town centre has been without a police station since late 2017, when the station on New Street closed as part of cost cutting plans to save £8.6 million.
Ian Austin, the MP for Dudley North, who has campaigned for a new station in the borough, said: "I promised to campaign to bring back a police station back to Dudley town centre, so I’m really pleased we're going to have a brand new police station in Dudley.
"Crime is on the increase, local people are worried about burglaries, car theft, anti-social behaviour and violent crime so I’m sure people in Dudley are going to really welcome this.
"Now I want to make sure we get our fair share of the extra police Boris has promised to recruit."
Councillor Keiran Casey, Dudley Council's shadow cabinet member for community safety, said: "This is important news for public safety in Dudley and will mean that officers are based closer to communities in Dudley.
"I hope plans move forward quickly on this and we get our much needed station as soon as possible.
"Since West Midlands Police has lost £175 million and over 2,000 officers, crime has been one of the biggest issue on the doorsteps. This news will be a real welcome boost and make local people feel much safer."
The Express & Star understands that West Midlands Police landed the site after being successful in a sealed bidding process.
The force is said to be completing land surveys and explorations before finalising the deal.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Jamieson, said: “We are involved in discussions with Dudley Council as part of our commitment to retaining a publicly accessible front desk in every borough of the West Midlands.”
It brings to an end a saga to revamp the plot that dates back for more than a dozen years.
It was initially earmarked for a mosque, and a series of plans were drawn up by the Dudley Muslim Association for the new site to cater for increased demand at the town’s Central Mosque on Birmingham Street.
However the plans met with widespread public opposition, and after reaching an impasse with the town council that at one point landed in the High Court, the project was shelved in 2015.
In the West Midlands more than 100 police buildings have either closed or have been earmarked for closure in the last decade, with the latest estates plan – revealed last year – highlighting 25 bases to shut down.
They include Aldridge, Sedgley, Tipton and Wednesfield. Former stations in Tettenhall and Darlaston have recently been put up for auction.
The Black Country will be left with 16 police bases – seven in Dudley, four in Walsall, four in Wolverhampton, and one in Sandwell, as well as the the Oldbury custody suite, which opened in 2016.
Brierley Hill station was not part of any initial closure plans, but a report from last year recommended that it be “rebuilt” due to the poor condition of the building.
Mr Jamieson has prioritised protecting police officer jobs over buildings since he became PCC in 2014.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to increase police officer numbers by 20,000 after years of budget cuts.
But he has appeared to rule out providing extra funding for new stations, telling the E&S recently that he was not convinced about the value of putting money into bricks and mortar.
"I had long experience of police stations that didn't always justify the spend," he said.
The force is waiting to find out how many extra officers it will get, with Chief Constable Dave Thompson hoping for a minimum of 1,200 officers over three years, and Mr Jamieson demanding that manpower is returned to its 2010 level.