Campaign to save a village police counter

Standish Police Station
Standish Police Station
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A CAMPAIGN has been launched to save a village’s axe-threatened police station.

Chairman of Wigan Conservative Federation Michael Winstanley and ward coun Judith Atherton have written to Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Peter Fahy to demand that counter at Standish Police Station remains open.

They have also launched a petition and are encouraging local people to sign it in support of their campaign.

Coun Atherton said that if the people do want to retain the facility they need to join the battle, irrespective of party membership or political belief.

She said: “I would urge everyone to sign this petition because it is vital to the community that we retain a police station in Standish.

“It is only by showing how united the local population is against this proposal that this closure may not go ahead.”

Mr Winstanley, who left the council in May, said that everyone appreciates that savings need to be made in the current financial climate in order to make sure that front line policing was protected.

However, ensuring that Standish Police Station remained open was, he insisted, consistent with that aim.

He said: “It would be wrong to leave Standish without a police station and that is why we have launched this campaign.

“This police station is vital given where Standish is in Wigan and some of the widely reported problems that have occurred recently in the area. Recent public disorder issues have demonstrated how important it is to have high visibility policing and a police presence in the local community.”

Police have already been forced to extend the consultation period over proposals announced in July to close police station front desks, including seven in the borough.

GMP had announced that only Wigan and Leigh’s public desks will remain open from January as part of a drive to save £134m over the next four years.

They say that there are currently 55 inquiry counters and 177 dedicated staff, with the counters alone costing £4.8m a year to run.

Police chiefs also said that the desks would be replaced by an external telephone system which will connect public callers to the central control room with Standish joining Bamfurlong, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Hindley and Atherton stations on the hit list of front desk closures.

But Greater Manchester Police Authority (GMPA) ordered the rethink after hearing a roar of concern from members of the public.

It wants to see a thorough survey of how many people use the front desks before making a final decision.

Christine McGawley JP, Vice Chair of Greater Manchester Police Authority, said: “I would like to emphasise that the proposals put forward by GMP included plans to close 34 public enquiry counters across Greater Manchester – this is not about closing police stations.

“We recognise that face-to-face contact with the police is important to our communities. This is why the Police Authority emphasised the need for meaningful consultation with the public and our partners before any final decisions are made.

“There is still time for the public to take part in the consultation and I want to reassure the public of Greater Manchester that we will listen to their views and concerns and consider them when developing the future delivery of policing in Greater Manchester.

“I’d also like to stress that increasing the visibility of local officers is a priority for the Police Authority and the Force which is why we are committed to neighbourhood policing.

“We will continue to support GMP in continuing to embed neighbourhood policing teams at the heart of our communities; ensuring local people have access to their local officers.”

Wigan councillor for Ince Jim Moodie, a full time officer for the public sector union Unison, which represents police civilian staff, said: “We’re really pleased they’re going to have a look at it because it was such a drastic reduction.”

To take part in the consultation, visit www.policingtomorrow.co.uk. You can also request a hard copy of the questionnaire by contacting GMPA on 0161 793 3127.