THE West Midlands Mayor is calling for Solihull police station to stay open for police purposes.
This comes after the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson (PCC), called on Andy Street to join him in plans to move civil servants into underused police buildings in the region.
Controversial proposals to sell off the Homer Road station as part of wider plans to save £5million and protect officer jobs across the West Midlands Police force were given the green light by the Mr Jamieson in 2018.
In 2018 it was announced the Solihull station would close in ‘late 2020’ – however this has been delayed due to the pandemic.
Following Michael Gove’s, Minister for the Cabinet Office, announcement last year to move civil servants out of London and into the regions Mr Jamieson called for Solihull police station to be considered for the scheme to save it from closure.
In his letter responding to the PCC, Cabinet Office Minister, Lord Agnew said that he plans were ‘at an early stage’ but that the Government were having regular discussions with Mr Street.
Mr Street said: “With a massive national police recruitment programme benefiting our region and record Government funding for West Midlands Police I believe we should be seeing expanded police use of Solihull police station – not further downgrading.
“Under the Police and Crime Commissioner there have been over 40 police stations closed in the West Midlands and I do not support seeing Solihull joining the list. It should be kept open.”
West Midlands Police are reported to have 1,200 new officers as part of the government’s ‘uplift programme’ which aims to hire an additional 20,000 officers nationwide.
Mr Street added the region is working with Government to bring more civil service jobs to the West Midlands following the announcement of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government relocating.
Mr Street said: “However that is nothing to do with the Commissioner’s police station closure programme.”
Mr Jamieson believes that by co-locating civil servants in underused police stations, it will make the buildings more viable and would help footfall in struggling town centres.
The PCC says since 2010 £175m has been cut from the West Midlands Police budget which has led to 2,200 fewer officers on the streets.
He added despite the extra officers it would mean that many buildings would still be under occupied and be costing the taxpayer a considerable sum to keep running.
Mr Jamieson said: “This is an excellent opportunity for politicians of all parties to get behind this call which will help to keep police buildings open which would otherwise be nonviable.
“Getting these jobs out of London and into places like Solihull will not only bring high quality, well paid jobs to the region – but will help our high streets which have been struggling.”