Fears for future of Midhurst police station

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Midhurst town councillors are seeking an assurance the town’s police station will not be threatened by the need to cut costs.

Their concerns were expressed in the wake of an announcement from Sussex Chief Constable Martin Richards that tough decisions including the axing of more than 1,000 frontline policing jobs would have to be made.

Gordon McAra told fellow town councillors he feared spending cuts could see the hours of opening to the public reduced or axed at the station.

“I am concerned the police spending review could see desking hours cut back,” he said. “It is incredibly reassuring for people, particularly the elderly, to be able to report problems and speak to people in authority there.”

He said he had heard the police station could be closed and used only as an ‘operational station’ at the back of the building.

He urged town councillors to write to Chichester District Commander Chief Inspector Ali Darge warning the town would be prepared to go into battle to save its police station if it were threatened.

“I think we should make strong representations to keep the police station as it is. It really is a matter of considerable importance to have the police station and I have heard it may well be part of the cutbacks we have been hearing about.”

Mr McAra said the police station had been closed down in previous years and the doors blacked out. “Some enlightened commander then opened it up again and it makes an enormous difference to the view people have of the police service,” he added.

Town clerk Joan Hursthouse told the meeting she had made informal inquiries about the level of cutbacks being discussed by Sussex police.

“The possibility of the police station sharing facilities, the possibility of bringing two services together in one front office and maybe shared use of the fire station, have all been discussed over the years as a means of saving money,” she told town councillors.

“There is a complete review going on,” she added, “and if they can save money by sharing offices, it is one of the things they will look at.”