Closing Aldershot’s police station will dent public confidence in the force, a councillor has claimed.
But the town won’t miss the ‘ugly’ building, according to the chairman of the town’s Civic Society.
The police station in Wellington Avenue could suffer the same fate as Farnborough station under an estates review currently being undertaken by Hampshire Constabulary.
If it does close its doors and police officers relocate, that may influence the future of the neighbouring magistrates’ court, for which a custody suite nearby is useful, and the adjacent Princes Hall leaving the way open for redevelopment of the site in Wellington Avenue. It is next door to the Westgate development.
Rushmoor councillor Charles Choudhary, backed by other prominent figures including Aldershot MP Gerald Howarth, is putting pressure on Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Hayes to keep the station.
“Shutting the police station would have an effect on the local community,” he said. “When there’s no visual sign of police people lose confidence. It makes no sense to move into cubby holes when there’s a building there that is purpose-built.”
He added: “I’m concerned about the wellbeing of residents. I would like to see them living in a peaceful environment. I want to push now before they make a decision. It’s no good crying over spilt milk. Once they decide to sell it, it’s too late.
“We’re very proud of our police who maintain law and order at a difficult time.”
Sir Gerald said he would be writing to chief constable Andy Marsh to ask why more information about the potential options for the station, which he admitted as ‘past its sell-by date’, had not been made public.
“It’s a matter of great concern to people as to the availability of police and the ability to contact them,” he said. “Therefore, I want some clarity as to what their plans are and what options are being considered.
“Sitting behind closed doors and making decisions without consulting the public isn’t good enough. The whole point of creating the role of PCC was to ensure there was much more public input into these community decisions.”
Aldershot Civic Society chairman Justin Coll added: “I think services being there would be missed but the building wouldn’t because it’s quite ugly. People want to have a police station in the area, they wouldn’t want it to go out of the town.”
The estates review by Hampshire Constabulary is expected to conclude within weeks. Space-sharing options are being considered that could result in the building being closed and sold, with a joint station for Rushmoor potentially opened elsewhere and Aldershot’s safer neighbourhood officers relocated within Aldershot, in a similar way to Farnborough’s, at Rushmoor Borough Council offices.