Clitheroe is set to lose its police station front desk – much to the dismay of local residents and politicians who campaigned to keep it open.
Since the announcement that the police desk based in King Street was under threat of facing the axe, officials at Ribble Valley Borough Council fought to keep the service open, offering to combine the council’s CCTV system with a police front desk system.
In addition, Giles Bridge, chair of the Ribble Valley Labour Party’s campaign forum, presented a petition signed by hundreds of concerned residents to Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr Clive Grunshaw, against the closure.
But despite their efforts, its seems the front counter is set to close. The move has been slammed by leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, Mr Ken Hind. He said: “This is a disgrace and typical of this Labour police commissioner who is retreating as a policy from dealing with rural crime.
“The borough council offered to help Mr Grunshaw to keep open the front office in Clitheroe by merging the CCTV and the counter staff together.
“Mr Grunshaw had already decided to close the front office at the police station and there was no way forward in the discussions.
“He is content to let the borough council pay for PCSOs and all the CCTV in the Ribble Valley, whilst having the benefit of both, but condemn Ribble Valley residents to seek police counter services in Accrington, Preston, Blackburn and Burnley.”
He added: “The largest rural borough in Lancashire does not now have a counter service as the Longridge police station is also closed.
“Priority is always given to the urban areas where Mr Grunshaw can be sure of support whilst the rural areas are starved of resources.”
Also disappointed is Coun. Paul Elms, deputy leader of the council.
He commented: “We fundamentally disagree with the commissioner’s decision to close the police front desk at Clitheroe. We remain concerned at the diminishing resources in rural policing. We have, however, had a commitment from the commissioner that the police station will not close and indeed will be refurbished to a degree in the coming months.”
Responding, Mr Grunshaw, said: “During the consultation period, proposals were put forward regarding the Clitheroe front counter – following discussions between my office, Lancashire Constabulary and Ribble Valley Borough Council, it was decided by all parties that these were unfortunately not viable and so could not be taken any further. I want to reiterate that the way areas are policed will not change in any way, officers will still be based at local police stations and work in these communities. As the Constabulary manages the continuing cuts to its funding by Government, we have to look at how the public want to report crimes and make sure that service receives the investment it needs.
He added: “Going forward we will continue to work together with Ribble Valley Borough Council on the development of a shared community space where the police, council and other partners will be able to engage with residents in the Ribble Valley community.”
As discussions are currently ongoing, no date has yet been given as to when the police counter will close.