Plan could see Saffron Walden Police Station close and relocate to council offices

Saffron Walden police station.

Saffron Walden police station. - Credit: Archant

Police in Saffron Walden could be operating their front desk from a room in the reception of the Uttlesford District Council (UDC) offices under new proposals announced today (December 21).

The council is in advanced discussions with Essex Police over a proposal that would create a ‘one-stop shop’ of services for residents.

The plan would see police offices moved from their current East Street location to Lodge House, a self-contained building in the grounds of the UDC site in London Road.

The town’s police front desk service, the only one left in Uttlesford from April next year, will also be run from a room in the reception area of the main council building under the new plan.

Councillor Howard Rolfe, leader of UDC, said: “We are delighted to be working with the police and to be able to offer the option of shared accommodation, which could be of great benefit to our residents.

“If agreement can be reached, the proposal would ensure an operational policing base is maintained in the district.

“The sharing of facilities could also provide improved scope for the joint working between our two organisations, as well as improved access to service for our residents.”

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Essex Police said in October that its current estate was “haemorrhaging money” and announced plans to close 15 front desks in the county by April next year.

Saffron Walden was one of 10 stations in Essex to keep a front desk in the modernisation plans, but recently the building has been plagued with problems.

Last year, the station was closed following both wasp and rat infestations, and in October, the building was shut after officers were affected by chemical fumes.

The station has not re-opened since the latest incident.

Councillor Doug Perry, who is a former police officer, said: “It’s very disappointing and the end of an era. A police station should be in the centre of town and this is just another example of services being eroded. Where will it end?

“We pay our rates for a police service and deserve one which benefits the town. The police building hasn’t been maintained properly, and the recent problems of break-ins and vandalism in the town is due to a lack of police presence. The residents of Saffron Walden are the only people who will lose out.”

Meanwhile, council members agreed last Thursday (December 17) to write to the police and crime commissioner and chief constable to voice its support in having a manned police station facility in Great Dunmow and Stansted.

Great Dunmow will close its front desk by April, but will remain as a operational base.

The council also agreed to continue discussions with the police over how to make best use of PCSOs in the district, and the authority will be fully funding two additional PCSOs from April 2016.

Cllr Rolfe said: “This council is doing everything in its power to support local policing in Uttlesford, and we will continue to work very closely with the police to get the best possible policing services for our residents.”

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