Closing Police Stations – Maghull

I have commented recently on the plan of Merseyside Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy to sell off the underused Maghull Police Station (along with others across the County) and to get neighbourhood police officers to work out of smaller premises.

In Maghull the new base for the ‘Coppers’ could be a shop unit, Maghull Library, Lydiate Village Centre? Your guess is presently as good as mine, but change it is a coming.

Then the other day I happened to walk past Maghull Police Station and a photograph jumped out at me to be taken. The Station is certainly in the Autumn of its years and the trees around it are full of Autumn colours. What’s more a for sale sale also creeps into the shot! Well OK, it’s not a for sale sign for the Police Station (yet) it’s actually for a retirement flat next door) but it might as well be as it’s days are certainly numbered.

rsz_maghull_police_station

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

I would add that I am not against the Police getting out of property that is too large and costs money to keep going. I would rather have the money spent on Police Officers.

Police Stations in Sefton & the Maghull Morrisons Link?

Readers will recall that I have been pressing Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy over the future of Maghull Police Station. My posting of 8th August 2013 refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2013/08/08/sefton-borough-are-our-local-police-stations-being-considered-for-closure/

Well things have moved on but there remains a distinct lack of clarity in my view. I attended a recent briefing given by the Commissioner about the emerging estates strategy of Merseyside Police but did not gain much in the way of useful information.

Here I am at Maghull Police Station where the Neighbourhood Policing Team must have had a tough time during Mad March.

Here I am at Maghull Police Station where the Neighbourhood Policing Team operates from.

On one level the need to retain a policing base in all the 5 recognised ‘hubs’ of Sefton seems to be there i.e. Southport, Formby, Maghull, Crosby and Bootle. But how they will provided this is presently very vague. I can see former shop units becoming a police bases, or community centres, or libraries, because clearly disposal of a number of current police stations is very much on the cards.

That the Police have very limited resources is a given so you can understand why they want to dispose of some old, expensive to run and operationally redundant property so that the money can be reinvested in front line policing. But we will all want to know how this is going to be achieved in detail.

It will be no use saying for example that police station ‘A’ is to close without also saying how the service to the the community, where that police station is based, will be continued/re-provided from new/alternative premises. At present I think it is fair to say that the Merseyside Police estate strategy is at a very high level and because of that many, many questions remain to be answered. Frankly, I would have thought it better to show a community the whole picture of change for consultation rather than what seems to be no more than half of it.

And I am not alone in my concerns as Cllr. Simon Shaw, a Lib Dem member of the Committee which oversees the activities of the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner, says this:-

*****

A £130m plan to overhaul police stations across Merseyside could see some bases moving into community centres and libraries. ……

Councillor Simon Shaw, who sits on the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel, criticised the plans for a “lack of clarity”.

Cllr. Simon Shaw outside Southport Police Station

Cllr. Simon Shaw outside Southport Police Station

The Liberal Democrat said: “They talk about things like ‘neighbourhood patrol hubs’, but what exactly does that mean in real life? Will these community stations be open all the time, or only for five hours per week? We don’t know precisely what is being proposed.

“If it’s a different way of using police buildings then I have no problem with that. If cuts are not made in this area then do they cut them in schools, or elsewhere in the public sector?

“But I think there is a lack of clarity for something really important here.”

*****

More news as I get it but does the Maghull Morrisons Store issue that I raised on this blog site last Sunday fit in with this? Maghull Police Station is one that is clearly now underused and is down for disposal and it is right next door to Morrisons!

Merseyside Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy visits Southport

My thanks to Cllr. Marianne Welsh for this report – my comments are in italics.

Cllr. Marianne Welsh

Cllr. Marianne Welsh

The event, held at the Atkinson (Previously known as Southport Arts Centre before the recent refurbishment), was not well attended – 6 members of the public, one policeman and 4 Southport councillors. It’s purpose seemed to be to help Jane Kennedy to engage with Southport residents but with so few attending………………………

She introduced herself and in doing so acknowledged that Police Commissioners had many doubters, including the Police, when they first were elected. Frankly, I remain a doubter as for the life of me I can’t see what they really add to effective accountable Policing.

Marianne says Jane referred to the huge Police commitment to help keep safe a NATO type summit to be held soon in Wales and the effect that it and sending Merseyside Police officers over to Northern Ireland for the ‘Marching Season’ will have on the local Merseyside Force. Her tone indicated this was something giving her cause for concern.

Marianne noted that in trying to explain how Police share information, via IT, across differing forces Jane seemed somewhat lost by the IT issues. Like many of us I assume but the public sector often falls down on grand plans because the IT is not as capable as it was promised to be.

When Marianne asked Jane (a former Liverpool Labour MP) what challenges she had come across in her new role she was given an example about Jane going to Marian Square (Netherton – Bootle Constituency), describing the deprivation around the shops and the local talk on the streets about drug dealing. Jane said she had engaged with various partners (an oft used public sector phase that could mean any or many other agencies) but that none were mentioned nor what plans had been drawn up to find solutions for that community.

Out in Maghull I have recently been pushing Jane Kennedy for assurances about the future of the Town’s Police Station but frankly I only got a vague response back after a long wait and having needed to send a reminder. I do worry that her office does not respond to letters promptly despite it costing us all significant amounts of money to run. Sorry Jane I remain to be convinced that you and indeed all the other Police Commissioners are making a difference.

Lydiate Ambulance Station closure – It seems they (North West Ambulance Trust) took no notice at all!

Lydiate Lib Dem Parish Councillor Robbie Fenton at Lydiate Ambulance Station. Strangely, the North West Ambulance Service call it Maghull Ambulance Station even though it is in Lydiate.

Lydiate Lib Dem Parish Councillor Robbie Fenton at Lydiate Ambulance Station. Strangely, the North West Ambulance Service call it Maghull Ambulance Station even though it is in Lydiate.

Below is a letter I received on 10th December via e-mail from Sefton Council, to whom it was addressed by the NW Ambulance Trust. In other words I got the letter 16 days after the trial mentioned in the letter below started. Indeed the letter was not even posted by the Trust until 3rd December.

MAGHULL STATION TRIAL
Further to previous correspondence and NWASs attendance at a meeting with your members in the summer regarding Maghull station, I am writing to advise you that the trial discussed commenced on 25 November. From this date, and for the following six months, the Maghull emergency ambulance will start and end its shifts at Buckley Hill, and will be supported in the area by an additional resource in the form of a rapid response vehicle (RRV).

During the trial, the Trust will closely monitor response times for incidents and we will make our final decision based on that data. Time trials are only accurate when they are conducted under usual conditions eg. driving using visual and audible warnings, at all times of the day and night – due to road legislation, we are only permitted to use these warnings when responding to or conveying a patient. Therefore, conducting the trial under normal driving conditions will not give us the accurate information needed to make a decision.

I would like to thank you for your co-operation in engaging with us on this subject and assure you that we will keep you informed on the progress of the trial.

*****

What makes me angry is that at the meeting in the summer that is referred to in the letter both I and Cllr. Andrew Blackburn gave the Trust an alternative to closing the Ambulance Station and moving the Lydiate ambulance to Buckley Hill Fire Station in Nertherton. It was an alternative that the Trust had clearly not thought of i.e. locating the ambulance at Maghull Police Station.

Subject to that Police Station having a sustainable future itself (which Merseyside’s Police Commissioner tells me it has ‘for the foreseeable future’) surely co-locating Police and Ambulance vehicles together would be a win, win scenario. But is there any mention of this in the letter from the NW Ambulance Trust? No not a word. Was the suggestion investigated at all? Were they even listening?

To rephrase the last sentence of the above letter as though I am writing it, how about this.

I would like to thank you for ignoring me and for the sham engagement on this subject and I assure you that I will remember what a waste of time it was speaking to the Trust.

£700,000 to pay off Merseyside Police & Crime Commissoner staff!

I have been looking at the accounts for Jane Kennedy, Merseyside’s Policing and Crime Commissioner for 2012/13 and was staggered to read that £697,211 had been spent during that accounting year on paying people off.

This a huge sum and it makes you wonder just what better use this money could have been put to. Surely using the money to support policing across Merseyside would be a much more positive use of £700,000.

The Liverpool Echo picked it up on this as well I note and it says:-

Row over £700,000 Mersey Police Authority compensation pay-outs

More than £400,000 was given out in redundancy payments to two top executives as part of a shake-up of the police authority by Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy.

The pair, who were awarded £282,000 in “compensation for loss of office”, received in total more than £400,000 between them in “exit packages” shortly after Mrs Kennedy’s election in November last year.

While the former Wavertree MP said streamlining her office staff would mean cost savings in the future, critics questioned the pay-outs, which saw more than £700,000 paid out to the 12 officers who left between November 2012 and March this year.

Around half of the Police Authority staff were made redundant as part of cost-cutting measures, when the body was replaced with the Office of the Police Commissioner.

But Cllr Simon Shaw, who represents the Birkdale Ward and is a member of the Panel, questioned the amounts paid out. He said: “I am absolutely appalled that the Police Commissioner has spent nearly £700,000 in just four months on pay-offs to staff in her office.”

“It’s not quite at BBC levels, but I do feel it is a shocking use of public funds on the part of Jane Kennedy.”

Merseyside Police Stations – Champion article provokes more concern

My posting of a couple of days ago raising concerns about potential Police Station closures on Merseyside was also given the light of day in the Champion newspaper, for which I am grateful.

Whilst I have had an assurance, from Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, that Maghull Police Station, for example, will remain open for the ‘foreseeable future’ this assurance is not necessarily going down well within the Police themselves.

My clear understanding is that the Commissioner’s view of things continues to be challenged within Merseyside Police, indeed I understand that the Champion article of last week led directly to her views being challenged to the extent that the paper has been told by a Police source that the Traffic Police, who are presently housed on the Maghull Police Station site, are to be removed.

Frankly, I am wondering what is going on between the Police and Police Commissioner and why this matter is not fully out in the open.