This week I have stepped up my campaign against plans by David Jamieson, Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), to close Solihull Police Station.
Previously you will remember that I rallied other West Midlands Conservative MPs and organised an open letter to the Commissioner setting out our opposition, and joined Dame Caroline Spelman to organise a Change.org petition to let local residents have their say.
On Tuesday I went one step further and led a special Parliamentary debate to allow the House of Commons to give Jamieson’s proposals the scrutiny they deserve.
My priority is maintaining service levels here in Solihull. After losing Shirley Police Station in 2015, this plan will leave our growing town with no proper base for a local, community police force. The Commissioner says that he will provide a ‘front desk’ somewhere in the area, but I think it’s unacceptable that local residents are having to give their views on his plan before being told exactly what will replace our local station.
I also have serious concerns about whether or not this closure will actually benefit frontline policing here in Solihull.
For starters, PCCs are not normally allowed to move funds raised by selling so-called ‘capital’ assets – such as buildings – into their ‘revenue’ account, which is used to pay wages. So how will the sale of our station benefit Solihull?
Furthermore, we also have no guarantees that a fair share of the £5 million that closing our region’s police stations will allegedly save West Midlands Police each year will be spent in Solihull. It’s not good enough just to claim that service levels will stay the same – if the closure isn’t followed by new investment, this is simply another example of our local services being cut and the proceeds not spent locally.
Ever since I was first selected to stand and represent our community in Parliament, I have fought to protect local policing. I have stood up to the PCC to protect PSCO numbers, opposed cuts to local patrol cars, and lobbied ministers to secure a better funding deal from the Government.
There is no excuse for closing our last police station only a few months after the West Midlands Police received a £9.5 million funding boost, and when the Commissioner is sitting on over £100 million in reserves. I will continue fight this and stand up for the needs of local residents.
Julian Knight MP