Sandwell police station closures a 'hostile' decision, says councillor

The region's police commissioner has been slammed over a "hostile" decision to close down police stations in Sandwell.

Wednesbury Police Station will close down under cost-cutting plans
Wednesbury Police Station will close down under cost-cutting plans

West Midlands Labour PCC Simon Foster signed off on cost-cutting plans to permanently close more than 20 police buildings, including the Oldbury, Smethwick, Wednesbury and Tipton stations.

The closures have been criticised by Conservative councillors in Sandwell.

In a letter to Mr Foster, Princes End councillor Archer Williams wrote: "Closing the police station is an unprecedented and hostile act toward my people, and I cannot express the level of anger and disappointment I will witness because of your decision.

"You are leaving them behind as Sandwell Labour has done consistently for the past 40 years.

"Mr Foster, let’s not play politics with the lives of my constituents, they are good people, they are hard working people that just want their homes and their local community to be safe.

"Why is it so difficult for politicians to do right by people? I will tell you why; it is because many of them take people for granted, making decisions, such as this, that will make their lives worse."

Councillor Williams claimed police officers travel from as far as Birmingham to respond to crime in his area. He said the closures were "not about saving money” but about “carelessness, indifference and negligence."

Dozens of police stations have closed down across the region in the past seven years as part of a mass closure plan brought in by Mr Foster's predecessor, fellow Labour politician David Jamieson.

The force says the latest closures will save £5 million a year and wipe a £24m maintenance backlog. Under the scheme, West Bromwich police station will be refurbished and house more community officers.

Sandwell's Conservative opposition leader, Charlemont with Grove Vale ward councillor David Fisher, said the logistics behind the move were “totally wrong”.

He added: "I understand a lot of staff, such as police community support officers, will be moved to West Bromwich.

"My residents want to know that they will be safe at night.

"The closure of these police stations will bring unnecessary worry and an increase in crime."

Mr Foster has insisted that no police buildings will be sold off without a local base for neighbourhood officers being found. He said local policing presence will be maintained in all areas affected by station closures.

"These plans will also save money, which will be re-invested in protecting essential police officer numbers to keep people and their families safe and secure," he said.

"One hundred officer posts a year rely on the £5 million savings from the estates programme. Without those savings officer numbers will fall further."

Other stations set to close over the next four years are Wednesfield and Aldridge. Brierley Hill is set to be replaced by a new 'super station' in Dudley.

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