A Durham County Councillor and a North East MP have expressed their concerns over relocation plans that could leave thousands of people without a police response force for a period of time.

Councillor for Aycliffe East, Neville Jones, and Sedgefield MP Paul Howell have spoken about plans to relocate Newton Aycliffe's police team from their current location which could leave the area without a local force whilst the team transition.

The police have shared offices with the fire service at Newton Aycliffe Fire and Police Community Station on Central Avenue since 2013, where locals can access the report desk for assistance from officers.

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However, this could be set to change whilst the force relocates with the possibility of Newton Aycliffe having no localised police response for an unknown period of time a daunting possibility.

For Councillor Jones, and Mr Howell, this is a pressing issue for which despite having assurances from Durham’s PCC Joy Allen, the future of Newton Aycliffe’s local policing is up in the air.

Cllr Jones said: “We pay an awful lot of council tax in Newton Aycliffe for this. The police precept on our council tax is really expensive, yet we just do not seem to have a police force.

“It’s just wrong. Sadly, the Police and Crime Commissioner came to Newton Aycliffe and assured us all that it would be sorted out but that is just not the case.”

These plans come just weeks after a man sadly died at Blake’s in Newton Aycliffe following an incident inside the pub.

One man was arrested after 61-year-old Craig Gill was rushed to hospital in a critical condition after the incident on July 8 but unfortunately passed away five days later from his injuries.

Cllr Jones added: “This is so important for a town as big as Newton Aycliffe with an anti-social behaviour problem. We cannot be without our police force – it is unthinkable.

“The unfortunate incident that happened with Craig Gill in Blake’s last week has reinforced the fact that we need a local police force in Newton Aycliffe.”

PCC Joy Allen is now set to make another appearance in Newton Aycliffe on July 26 to discuss the plans, with members of the public welcome to join.

MP for Sedgefield, Paul Howell, has stressed he is "extremely concerned" at the plans as he launches a petition to "prevent the removal of frontline police officers".

He said: “I am intensely frustrated that the Police team have allowed it to get to this situation, we need cooperation from all to find a way forward. This not only affects Newton Aycliffe but the localities served by this team.

The Northern Echo: MP Paul Howell outside Newton Aycliffe Fire and Police Community Station.MP Paul Howell outside Newton Aycliffe Fire and Police Community Station. (Image: PAUL HOWELL MP)

“Newton Aycliffe is the third biggest urban area in County Durham, and it is getting let down by a lack of estates strategy and the Labour PCC needs to get on top of this. Newton Aycliffe should not be left with a police presence that is equivalent to a small housing estate.”

The Northern Echo contacted Durham Constabulary, who have reassured residents that they will continue to be protected by other forces from Spennymoor and Bishop Auckland whilst the team relocates.

A spokesperson said: “Following the conclusion of a ten-year arrangement with Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, Durham Constabulary is seeking a suitable venue in Newton Aycliffe to house our Response and Neighbourhood Teams. 

"The neighbourhood team will continue to operate from the fire station until such time as new premises are found.

“Response operations are currently under review and it is anticipated that temporary arrangements will see some service delivered from neighbouring stations. 

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"It has always been the case that residents of Newton Aycliffe have been serviced, in respect of response policing from Bishop Auckland, Spennymoor and beyond where demand requires it.

"As the public would expect, effective plans are in place to ensure high-quality policing services are maintained while the search for permanent premises in Newton Aycliffe continues.

“It will always be the case that the residents of Newton Aycliffe will have a 24/7 response in terms of emergency calls and those incidents which require a fast-time response.”