Warnings officer jobs at risk if police stations remain open slammed across Solihull - The Solihull Observer

Warnings officer jobs at risk if police stations remain open slammed across Solihull

Solihull Editorial 20th Mar, 2024   0

WARNINGS that 860 police officer jobs could be lost if plans to close stations are scrapped have been slammed across Solihull.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Simon Foster, has written to the region’s MPs stating any decision to keep open the 30 police stations, including the Homer Road site in Solihull, could lead to potential job losses.

This came after the West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, said if he was given the go ahead to take over the powers of the PCC he would throw out the Estates Strategy set out in 2018 by the previous PCC David Jamieson to save £5million and protect officer jobs across the West Midlands region.

In his letter Mr Foster wrote: “West Midlands Police has about 700 fewer police officers that it had in 2010.

“It is important that it is clearly understood a failure to adopt the Strategy, will risk the loss of up to a further 860 police officers.

“That would leave West Midlands Police with up to 1,560 fewer police officers than it had in 2010.

“I repeat, police stations are important, but I will always prioritise maintaining police officer and staff numbers, because when tough choices have to made, as a consequence of managing a budget that remains under severe pressure, it is police officers and staff that prevent, tackle and reduce crime and protect he vulnerable, not police buildngs.”

However the letter has not been welcomed among the borough’s MPs and campaigners.

Solihull’s MP, Julian Knight, has long campaigned to keep the Homer Road site open and has handed petitions to Parliament and led debates on the issue while sitting as a Conservative member.

The now Independent MP said: “The Labour PCC needs to stop holding the sword of Damocles over the residents of Solihull.

“We have had an appalling deal over recent years and both PCC’s and Conservative ministers have failed us. I warned time and again that the politicisation of police was a terrible error and here we are.”

Meriden’s MP, Saqib Bhatti, took on the gauntlet of trying to save the station from closure from his predecessor, Dame Caroline Spelman, when he became MP in 2019.

He said: “Last year, after huge pressure from the Solihull Conservatives the PCC said he would keep Solihull Police Station and one in Chelmsley Wood without any further details.

“I long suspected he had no serious plan to do so and this latest antic makes me think this is even more true now.

“After the government has given him almost 1,300 new officers and a record funding settlement, he is now pulling this stunt. The real shame is that this should be above party politics. My constituents deserve to feel safe in their homes and as they go about their lives. I implore him to stop playing games and start delivering a permanent base in Solihull and a new permanent base in Chelmsley Wood. The only question is will he or won’t he?”

Jay Singh-Sohal, Conservative campaigner, said: “Solihull police station does not threaten the frontline but rather the PCCs own politically-motivated decisions.

“He has a record £743million from government and council taxpayers (plus tens of millions more in reserves), and a centrally-funded uplift programme that has seen several hundred more officers recruited.”

The original date to close Solihull’s police station was ‘late 2020’ but this was delayed due to the pandemic.

Both Mr Foster and Mr Jamieson committed to not closing the Solihull station until a location for a new front desk had been found.


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