Concerns growing over threat of closure to Saffron Walden police station
PUBLISHED: 09:01 26 February 2015 | UPDATED: 18:30 26 February 2015
Essex's top crime chief has given the strongest indication yet that Saffron Walden police station is at risk of closure, the Reporter can today reveal.
It is not the first time talk has surfaced that the station, built in 1885, could be scrapped as part of Essex Police’s widespread cost-cutting measures.
But with a review of the force’s stations almost complete, Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston has admitted to the Reporter that “undoubtedly some stations will close”.
A former police officer in the town, Doug Perry, who is now a town and district councillor, said there was a “very strong rumour” among insiders he had spoken to that the East Street station could be shut for good by next year.
Mr Alston stressed that no decisions had as yet been made but cautioned: “I have not and will not shy away from the fact that many of the current buildings are old, in need of expensive maintenance and are not fit for the purposes of a modern police force.
“Each year £1.75m of maintenance is needed to keep the estate in its current condition and the backlog of work required totals around £30m.
“With the budget for policing in Essex getting ever smaller, I am not prepared to waste money, maintaining antiquated police stations and buildings that do not serve the needs of our officers.”
Reacting to Mr Alston’s comments, Cllr Perry warned that closing the police station would “change the whole face of the town dramatically”.
He said: “I’m devastated that after all its long history Saffron Walden police station, which once had its own chief constable, could be lost.
“There is a very strong rumour that the police station could be gone by next year, if not earlier.”
Mr Alston added: “I have made no secret of the fact that there is currently an ongoing review of the 80 properties that form part of the Essex Police estate.
“That review is nearing completion but as yet no decisions on the future of any police stations in our county have been finalised. On this point I cannot be clearer.
“Inevitably the Chief Constable and I face some very tough decisions on the future of police buildings, including stations. Undoubtedly some stations will close.”
In some parts of Essex, such as Brightlingsea and Tiptree, police are sharing accommodation with the fire service to positive effect, Mr Alston said, something he will explore doing elsewhere in the county.