Minister’s blow to plea by Linda

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HALIFAX’S MP has taken to the Home Office her campaign to reopen a town’s police station to the public.

During House of Commons question time, Linda Riordan asked the department to consider reopening Sowerby Bridge police station.

She said: “Hundreds of my constituents have signed a petition supporting the reopening to the public of Sowerby Bridge police station.

“Will the minister urgently consider the matter, because it is at the very heart of the community and would play a huge role in preventing and tackling crime in the area?”

But Policing and Criminal Justice minister Nick Herbert replied that the decision would not be up to the Government.

He said: “We do not directly control whether police stations are open.

“That is a matter for the Chief Constable and the police authority. But there are other ways in which the police can improve their visibility to the public.

“For instance, they can set up bases in supermarkets. It is not just about buildings.”

Mrs Riordan says more than 500 people signed her campaign and believes reopening the station to the public would cut crime.

Chief Superintendent Alan Ford, head of Calderdale Division, said: “I’m afraid that in the current financial climate, the suggestion is unrealistic.

“In an ideal world we would open to the public in every town, but the considerable financial restraints prevent that.

“In the current climate we are working extremely hard just to retain the levels of service we currently offer.

“To find new staff to open the public counter would cost tens of thousands a year. That sort of money just doesn’t exist.

“The only way we could open the front counter would be by taking an officer off the beat. I cannotot imagine any community being happy with that.

“If volunteers are willing to give their time then we’d be happy to hear from them.”