A North East MP has defended a new police base after criticism that it was "little more than a toilet stop".

The base at Medina House in Elm Tree, Stockton, was closed in 2016 to centralise the force at a station in Stockton.

A letter has been sent to residents around Stockton by the Conservative candidate for Stockton North, Niall Innes, to thank them for supporting the push for a new base.

The letter reads: "After many months of negotiating with stakeholders and looking at different potential sites we are delighted that we have now been able to re-open a new base to serve our community."

However, the announcement has been criticised by local Labour Party candidates for being "little more than a toilet stop".

Matt Vickers, Conservative MP for Stockton South, made it clear that it would operate in the same way as Medina House used to. It would not be a manned desk but it would be a space for officers to be based locally.

He said: "It’s taken a long time to get this initiative together and I’m hugely grateful to all those who signed our petition, my old college Stockton Sixth Form and the education service for agreeing to support this initiative.

"I’m also hugely grateful to the police who listened to the calls from myself, local Councillor Hugo Stratton and residents to improve visibility in our community."

Councillor Matt Storey, Labour’s candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “They have a bare-faced cheek to claim they have negotiated anything to serve the public when we know from Cleveland Police themselves this 'hub' provides for little more than a toilet stop and somewhere to eat.

“Councillor Innes also boasts about 20,000 more police officers – but fails to acknowledge that they won’t even replace the ones cut since 2010 by his government and that Cleveland, only recently identified as having the highest crime rate in the country, is nowhere near the numbers it needs.”

Stockton West Labour candidate, Joe Dancey, said: “Stockton Conservatives are complacent about crime which is having a very real impact in our area.  The public won’t be taken in. The Conservatives should join in Labour’s demand for neighbourhood police that local people can see, meet, and speak to.”

Chris McDonald, Labour’s candidate in Stockton North, added: “It is an amazing claim to make but typical of the half-truths put out across the area by the Tories.  People know from their own experience that crime is up and have little confidence this lot will sort it out.  This latest announcement will simply bolster that opinion.”

Mr Innes hit back at the criticism from Labour candidates who he argued didn't know the area.

He said: "Realising Labour’s Stockton West candidate is from London and their Stockton North candidate is from Durham, neither are really aware of the issues we face locally in Stockton or our recent history.

"The facts speak for themselves. Labour closed our previous police base at Medina House, meaning officers and PCSO’s have had to travel on foot, bike, or public transport from Stockton town centre to deal with reported crime in areas like Grangefield, Fairfield and Hartburn.

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"Now, thanks to the Conservatives, Cleveland has seen 267 more police officers on our streets since 2019, and now we have a new base ensuring officers are based in our local community.

"I think our Chief Inspector knows a lot more about policing than Alex Cunningham and his Labour crew, and I agree with the Chief Inspector that this police base will increase efficiency dramatically, meaning the police can stay out on the streets longer and increase visibility in the area.

"While Labour continues to be true to form, talking down our area and belittling our police, I will keep working with Matt Vickers MP, the police and residents in not only celebrating this new base that replaces the one Labour closed, but also fighting for more resource and practical solutions to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour."

Chief Inspector Dan Heron of Stockton Police said: "This initiative is going to increase our efficiency dramatically, because whereas officers had to attend Stockton Town Centre to go to the station, they don’t have to do that now, they can come here to use the facilities, meaning effectively the police can stay out on the streets a lot longer, increasing that visibility in the area."