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Fewer than 1,000 people responded to survey on relocation of Newark Police Station

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Fewer than 1,000 people responded to a public survey on the future of Newark Police Station, it has been revealed.

Plans to close the Queen’s Road station and move police officers and staff to a purpose-built building at Newark and Sherwood District Council offices were almost a done deal.

Nottinghamshire Police chief constable Craig Guildford said the current station was 75% underused and the move would save the force £103,000 a year.

Caroline Henry at Newark Police Station. (51476966)
Caroline Henry at Newark Police Station. (51476966)

He stressed the move would mean “less square feet and more officers on the beat” with the savings being pumped into employing more police officers.

But when Paddy Tipping (Lab) lost the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in May 2021 to Caroline Henry (Cons) she quickly announced she wanted to halt the move.

She said it was important to hear people’s views locally before any decision could be made and she was a listening commissioner.

Newark Police Station on Queens Road. (48692707)
Newark Police Station on Queens Road. (48692707)

She launched a public survey aiming to reach more than 40,000 people in the Newark area to find out if they were in favour or against such a move. The results would inform her decision making.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service put in a Freedom of Information request to find out how many people had responded to the survey.

Mrs Henry’s office paid £8,100 of taxpayers’ money to employ independent consultants to carry out the survey, which included a social media campaign.

In total, 911 people responded to the survey ­— with 726 people voting against the move, 135 people voting in favour of the move and 50 people stating they did not know.

This means that just over 2% of Newark’s total population responded to the public survey.

The FOI also revealed that as of summer 2021, the revenue running cost of Newark Police Station was £181,000.

The new build at Newark and Sherwood District Council Offices in Castle House would be £1.7m. The Government had planned to fund part of the new development to the tune of £1m.

Of the 911 respondents to the survey, 607 people stated that they would like to see closer working between Nottinghamshire Police and Newark and Sherwood District Council.

But, while 58 felt that the proposed relocation would improve policing locally, 780 felt that the relocation would not.

Mrs Henry said she also ran two focus groups with 24 residents as well as an online community event to find out people’s views.

Mrs Henry’s office said: “Having sought the views of local residents on proposals to relocate Newark Police Station to a shared facility with Newark District Council at Castle House, evidence suggests that the majority of residents (80%) are against the proposal.

“Primary concerns relate to the impact of the train barrier and traffic congestion at the new site affecting emergency response times in the town centre.

“Residents do not generally feel that the relocation would improve policing in the area and would like the current site used more effectively.

“Many residents wanted to see further exploration of opportunities to collocate with the ambulance service or use the current location more effectively.

“Many residents also felt that more information was required in order to enable them to make / provide an informed response.”

Speaking after the decision was made to halt the move, Mrs Henry said: “I promised to be a listening Commissioner, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. The people of Newark told me they didn’t back the move, so I can’t back it either.

“It’s clear from the results of the survey that people want the police to achieve closer working with partners such as the council, but the loss of a perfectly good building was not the way to do it.

“I will now work tirelessly with the police to find other uses for the building, in an attempt to bring more resource in to the town.”

Keith Girling, district council deputy leader, was in favour of the relocation so that council officers could work closer with the police.

He said: “If you look at the survey as the whole of (Newark) population it is not very large.

“It is unfortunate the decision to go ahead with the relocation was not made because of the benefits of working with the council. We saw it as an opportunity and the chief constable was in support of this.

“It is a difficult decision, and she is new in post, and she saw that as a big response. Personally, I am disappointed because I can see the benefits of relocation.

“I don’t want police officers in police stations. I want them out on the streets.

“Now we have a large building there with hardly any police officers in it. The PCC is working to get more people in there but that could have been avoided in my view.”

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