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Police HQ move unavoidable says North Yorkshire's Chief Constable
POLICE chiefs say the relocation of the North Yorkshire force headquarters is unavoidable – describing their current home as “unsuitable” for 21st century policing.
Power supply problems, flooding and the expense of patching up Newby Wiske Hall’s crumbling structure, are some of the issues North Yorkshire Police says it faces at its existing site.
ON THE MOVE: Chief Constable Dave Jones and police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan outside North Yorkshire Police headquarters in Newby Wiske, from which they have announced plans to relocate to near Thirsk
Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan and Chief Constable Dave Jones today (Monday, September 23) set out their case for moving the force out of the Grade II listed hall, based in countryside a few miles outside Northallerton, to a purpose-built venue in the Thirsk area.
Mr Jones said Newby Wiske costs £1m a year to maintain, adding: “We can’t afford to stay here over the long term. This will become more and more expensive to maintain and it doesn’t give us the facility we require.”
Mr Jones and Mrs Mulligan said they had identified two or three potential sites, but refused to reveal their locations until negotiations were complete.
Although they would not be drawn on the size and cost of the new Northern base, they said it will be a slightly bigger project than the creation of the new £20.8m police station in Harrogate. Despite that, they expect to make an annual saving of £455,000.
The new headquarters will also replace local police stations at Thirsk and Northallerton, acting as an operational base for policing in the area, and include an upgraded custody suite to replace the current facilities in Northallerton.
Mr Jones said a new venue would also allow the force to invest in information technology. The current HQ's inconsistent electricity supply meant this currently was not possible and put electronic data at risk.
However, he admitted that amalgamating three different facilities would inevitably result in job losses from civilian posts.
He said: “This is a cost-cutting exercise. We’re trying to consolidate the estate. Financially this is so we can provide a better service to the public,” he said.
“It may well be we have one general reception; does the public really want three separate receptions?
“That might mean we don’t need as many staff. But it’s the same service for the public.”
Julia Mulligan said: “The important thing is we still have 1,392 police officers and 123 PCSOs (police community service officers). We need to keep those people out on the beat.
“That’s our over-arching priority. We have to find about £10m worth of savings. We have to deliver efficiencies.”
John Mackfall, branch secretary for the North Yorkshire Police branch of Unison, said the job losses were unlikely to amount to more than ten posts and was confident those affected could be redeployed without the need for compulsory redundancies.
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