SOLIHULL Police station will close its doors despite widespread opposition.
Controversial plans to sell off the building as part of wider plans to save £5million and protect 100 officer jobs were given the green light by The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson.
He approved the proposals at the Strategic Policing and Crime Board on Tuesday (March 20).
It was also announced the Homer Road station will be closed in ‘late 2020’.
Mr Jamieson said he will only give the go-ahead to release the 24 police buildings once he is satisfied with the force’s plans to maintain a local presence in each area.
Previously he said stations would not close until a more ‘efficient’ one was opened nearby and these could be in the buildings of other public sector bodies such as the NHS or the fire service.
But as yet no definitive plans as to where the front desk at Solihull Police station will be relocated to have been released.
Mr Jamieson, said: “After £145million cuts since 2010 and with the level of funding from government being squeezed year on year, the force must continue to find efficiencies to protect officer numbers.
“Crime is also changing and I need to ensure West Midlands Police has an estate that is equipped to help officers and staff respond to those crimes. Whilst the threats we face change, the public still need access to their police. That is why these proposals ensure that the current number of public contact offices will be maintained at current levels.
“I am committed to ensuring that the police buildings released as part of this process create real social value, in addition to freeing up money to protect police officer posts.”
The news has been criticised by Borough MPs who have been fighting to save the station.
Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman and Solihull MP Julian Knight have led a 3,500-strong petition against the closure of the station.
Mr Knight was also key in setting up a public letter, signed by the region’s Conservative MPs calling on the PCC to reject the proposals at this week’s meeting.
He even led a debate in the House of Commons on the issue.
Following the meeting both MPs have slammed the decision and are demanding to know what this will mean for residents and officers based in the borough.
Mr Knight said: “This announcement is desperately short on detail.
“The people of Solihull need a police presence in the town centre and what the PCC has said does not assure me that this is what we’re going to end up with.
“We need a specific commitment to maintaining a local police base and David Jamieson needs to engage much more closely with local concerns – as the Policing Minister said, he has failed to take the public with him on this very important issue.”
Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman said: “I am deeply concerned that the Police and Crime Commissioner has chosen to ignore the legitimate concerns of my constituents in pushing ahead with the closure of Solihull police station.
“I will be seeking immediate clarification on a number of issues – in particular, the issues presented by the potential loss of Solihull’s police custody suites and whether this decision will impact officer response times.
“At this stage, to say only that the station will close in ‘late 2020’ does not offer sufficient reassurances to residents who in recent years, have seen every public station or police hub open to the public including; the Bluebell Centre in Chelmsley Wood and the Balsall Common Police shop, systematically closed under this PCCs watch.”