NORTH Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has dismissed claims that the estimated cost of building the force’s new headquarters has escalated by 66 per cent.
Julia Mulligan was responding to speculation that the price tag for the base, which she hopes to site in an eight-acre field in South Kilvington, near Thirsk, had initially been calculated at £18m and had risen to £30m.
Campaigners in the village, including an internet blogger claiming to be a former police officer with “internal sources”, questioned whether taxpayers should be bearing extra costs to replace the force’s crumbling base at Newby Wiske, near Northallerton, and build a new custody suite.
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Mrs Mulligan said an array of cost factors were yet to be determined and that it had always been clear the headquarters and custody suite would cost in excess of the £18m spent on the Harrogate Police Station, which opened in May 2012, as it would be a larger facility.
She said: “It seems that the rumour mill is running away with itself.
“Once we are beyond the sensitivities associated with tendering, the budget will be made public, just as was done for Harrogate.”
The commissioner said money had been allocated in the budget, that the police were still deciding what should be included in the blueprint and that the cost would also depend upon the site.
Mrs Mulligan said: “Once a final site is confirmed, initial ground works will be undertaken, and the specification will be nailed down, taking into full account the operational requirements of the police service and the need to save money.”
South Kilvington resident Mick Lynas said some villagers were becoming increasingly frustrated over the lack of information being provided about the plans.
He said campaigners had been further dismayed by an instruction from Hambleton District Council to remove a protest banner erected in a field near the proposed police base site.
Mr Lynas said: “This sign is erected on private land and is similar to the signs in an opposite field used by the local cricket team.
“They have no planning permission either, but have never been approached about theirs in the many years they have been up.”
A spokesman for the council said its planning department had been contacted by the Highways Agency to oversee the removal of the sign, which reads ‘No thank you to police HQ’.
A Highways Agency spokesman the sign was unlawful under advertisement regulations. He added: “Hoardings of this nature have the purpose of drawing attention, which compromises driver safety, and we would not support any advertising at this location.”