A business owner and resident of a large County Durham town has described the area as a “war zone” as proposed plans could see the area left without a localised police response.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, has spoken up about measures that would see Newton Aycliffe’s Police force moved out of the community fire station on Central Avenue later this year with no new permanent home to move into.

Since 2013, the police have been housed at the station under a ten-year lease agreement after their original building on the same road was demolished and the land was sold off to build a care home and a Jehovah’s Witnesses Church.

Read more: Former cop shares worry over Newton Aycliffe Policing loss

Once the office space lease ends in December of this year, the response team will have to move out of the building, with no new permanent home currently sourced for them to use after that time.

Locals and business owners like this resident claim anti-social behaviour and crime are on the rise, which only heightens fears that officers could take longer to respond to events than they currently do whilst housed in the fire station.

He said: “There are motorbikes up and down the streets daily, groups of people going up and down busy roads in the town. They drive on the paths, weave between cars and they are just not bothered.

“This is a regular occurrence now in Newton Aycliffe and it’s getting worse. The anti-social behaviour sees people standing outside shops with ski masks on intimidating people.

“It is getting worse, and it has been getting worse every year.”

The resident told The Northern Echo that their business has previously fell victim to an attempted robbery, making him feel more concerned about how much worse things could get without a response team.

He said: “Due to cutbacks, the policing has just been ripped back to its bare bones. What will happen now? Will the area just be run by PCSOs?

“I cannot see this improving unless we get more police on the streets to act as a visible presence and deterrent.

“I genuinely fear for the society that our children are going to grow up in, it is terrifying.”

For him, these problems can only be solved by building a new police station in the area to assure a quick and localised response.

He said: “We need a full police station, not a converted shop in the town centre. We just need something.

“In the night, you hear the sirens sometimes and it feels like you are living in New York. We are living in a war zone.”

Views like this from other residents were expressed at a meeting of Great Aycliffe Town Council on July 26, where PCC Joy Allen answered questions regarding the plans.

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For PCC Allen, the housing of officers at the fire station was “not the ideal situation but a compromise” as she assured anxious attendees that the meeting that the force was working hard to find a new home for Newton Aycliffe Police.

She said: “We want premises in the centre of Newton Aycliffe, not outside, and that is easier said than done. We have been looking significantly around the area, but none have been identified as being suitable to house the police.

“It was a compromise, but it kept our neighbourhood teams at Central Avenue for as long as we possibly could with Steve’s support until we find an alternative piece of land or accommodation.”