A POLICE and crime commissioner candidate who has proposed the closure of North Yorkshire Police's Newby Wiske Hall headquarters has been urged to move staff to York.
Julia Mulligan, Conservative candidate for the new role, revealed that the leader of York Council had asked her if she would relocate 450 staff based at the hall near Northallerton to their city - if she won next week's election.
However, although Mrs Mulligan confirmed that she advocated the closing of the building, she said a full analysis would need to be conducted before a final decision was taken.
The Tory candidate said the building's annual running costs of £820,000 would be better spent on frontline resources.
“It's a very expensive building to run and there are opportunities to look for more modern facilities for staff and to make it much more accessible for people,” she said.
“(The leader of) York City Council has asked me if I would move the headquarters to York but I'm simply not prepared to answer that question. We need to do a proper analysis first.”
Mrs Mulligan said she did not rule out building a new facility in the Northallerton area or sharing offices with other services.
“I want to make it clear it's not about staff - it's about property,” she said.
“I recognise Newby Wiske's importance as a local employer and I recognise it has very highly skilled staff.”
But her opponent, Labour candidate Ruth Potter, said Mrs Mulligan was viewing the sale of Newby Wiske as a “quick fix”.
Coun Potter said: “Yes it's expensive to run but the site is not worth a lot of money - £1.5m at most.
“It's a grade two-listed building in a conservation area and to sell it is going to be difficult. There's nobody queuing up to buy it.
“Building on the land or converting it into flats isn't going to be easy.
“It's not fit for purpose but I think my opponent is wrong to think she can do something about it almost immediately.
“There needs to be consultation with the people living nearby and the staff.
“The £1.5m that you would get isn't going to buy you a new headquarters anywhere.”
Newby Wiske Hall was built in the 17th century. The building became North Yorkshire Police's headquarters in 1977.
Around 450 police officers and staff work at the hall Senior Hambleton councillor Carl Les, a member of North Yorkshire Police Authority who has sat on the authority's estates board for a number of years, said Newby Wiske Hall was an old building which was expensive to maintain.
However, he added: “There is a need for police administration in the northern part of the county.
“The police authority will be handing which ever candidate wins the election a portfolio containing recommendations as we have been looking at this issue for some years.
“But one of the considerations has to be the potential impact on the local economy in moving so many jobs in a rural area.”
John Blackie, the leader of Richmondshire Council, questioned the proposal to move from the building.
He said: “It is a large employment resource in a rural area. I don't see why it should be replaced unless there is a plan to replace it with something similar in the same rural area.”