Police chiefs told to explain Swaffham station office closure plan

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Councillors in Swaffham have demanded a full explanation from police chiefs about the reasons why they want to close the public office at the town’s police station.

The station is one of four across Norfolk where the public inquiry office is set to shut by the summer, as part of measures to cut up to £25 million from police budgets by 2020.

But the move was condemned during the town council’s monthly meeting on Wednesday night.

And members insisted that either commissioner Stephen Bett or area commander, Chief Supt Nick Davison, should address their concerns in person.

Last week, Mr Davison said that an average of one to three people visited the Swaffham office each day and the numbers using it and the other branches affected were low.

He also insisted he was confident that the move would not affect services to the public.

But councillor Paul Darby said he wanted to know how the offices chosen for the axe had been selected.

He added: “We’re paying the same amount of council tax towards the police. Why are we going to have less ability to contact the police? It’s not fair and we need a level playing field.”

Deputy mayor Anne Thorp pointed out that there would still be a phone for visitors to use, but admitted it was not the same.

And David Wickerson described the decision as “disgraceful.”

He added: “Swaffham is considered to be a safe place to live and thank goodness it is, but we do have issues.

“People want somewhere they can go if they have a problem and now they can’t.”

He also reminded the meeting that the proposal was coming before them only a month after they had been asked to consider paying up to 50 per cent of the cost of a community support officer for the town.

And the move was also announced on the same day that a planned council tax increase of just under two per cent was also confirmed.

The town council’s concerns were backed by the town’s county councillor, Paul Smyth, who said: “It appears this is being delivered as a fait accompli.”

And Breckland district councillor Ian Sherwood urged all the authorities to work together to force police leaders to think again.

He said: “The way it’s been handled is terrible. I think it was really a hope it would slip through without being noticed.”