An opportunity has arisen in Frodsham to relocate the police station from its current site to Frodsham fire station. As such the force has sought feedback not only from staff, but from local stakeholders, residents and businesses in Frodsham on the proposed move.
A public consultation took place over a four week period between Tuesday 29th August and Monday 25th September 2017 whereby the views and opinions where sought by way of an online survey and face to face consultation, with opportunities to talk to the Police and Crime Commissioner, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner and Engagement Team who were on hand at Frodsham market to discuss the proposed changes.
Overall, 358 surveys were completed from members of the public.
Findings from the public consultation:
Of the 358 members of the public who completed a survey, 231 of them lived in Frodsham (64.53%), with the remaining 127 (35.47%) not residing in Frodsham.
Overwhelmingly, 339 member s of the public (94.69%) agreed that the relocation of Frodsham police station is appropriate. 348 members of the public (97.21%) also agreed that Frodsham fire is accessible for local residents.
When asked if they could foresee any issues that the Constabulary would have to address if the police station is relocated to the fire station, 319 (89.11%) members of the public said that they couldn’t , leaving 39 respondents (10.89%) who thought that they could foresee some issues.
Issues raised by the public:
There were a number of issues raised by members of the public, detailed below together with Constabulary comments.
1. There were a number of comments around wanting details of when the police station would be open; whether it would mean more access to police officers as there is a feeling that Frodsham and Helsby are currently underserved by the police service and whether the police station would actually be open to members of the public.
Comment: The current Police Station is not occupied on a permanent/planned basis and does not operate a public helpdesk. The building is locked at most times because PCSOs and Officers are out working in their community, and hence not publicly accessible unless by prior appointment or a member of staff/officer is present and available to answer the door to a visitor. A 24/7 Police Contact Point is located to the exterior of the Police Station which facilitates live video link direct to the Force Communication Centre. The proposed relocation to the Fire Station will not materially affect the current arrangements. The Police Contact Point will be relocated to the Fire Station.
2. Survey Participants. There was a comment from a resident in Helsby who felt that only the opinions of those who live in Frodsham are of importance in relation to the proposed changes.
Comment: It is assumed that people responding to the survey felt sufficiently connected to the issue of the location of Frodsham Police Station. It should be noted that a majority of survey responses were completed on market day in Frodsham and would have been a mix of Frodsham residents, local business owners and shoppers/visitors all of whom have a legitimate interest in the issue.
3. Vehicle access and parking. Member of the public raised the issue about parking and access at the fire station; who would have priority should police and fire need to turn out at the same time and public safety when emergency vehicles are leaving the fire station.
Comment: Police vehicles responding to emergency calls will not generally deploy from Frodsham Police Station. As regards parking, it is considered that there is adequate space to the frontage of the Fire Station for authorised personnel and disabled staff/visitors’ parking however this will require further detailed discussion with Fire.
4. Public questioned whether the external defibrillator would be moved to the new location.
Comment: Yes it is proposed to move the defibrillator to the Fire Station site.
5. Security vetting. Given that police staff have a higher level of vetting than those in fire.
Comment: The internal security of the Fire Station building and local working practices will be reviewed to ensure compliance with Police vetting and security policies. The Constabulary test external and internal building security across the estate from time to time.
6. Survey participants were also clear to emphasise the need for clear signage for the station if it moved which should detail opening hours and what services the public can expect from the police station.
Comment: The exterior of the Fire Station will bear the Constabulary signage subject to obtaining any necessary consents. The Police Station street signage from Main Street will remain accurate to direct visitors to the new location (which is on the opposite side of the road to the current location). See also comments to No. 1 above.
7. Disposal of current site. The public were interested in understanding what would happen to the existing site of the police station and if sold off, could the money be re-invested in the Frodsham area by way of increasing CCTV – rather than being spent elsewhere in Cheshire.
Comment: After the move has been completed the current site will be surplus to operational requirements and disposed of. Consideration will be given to applying restrictions to the use of the land in order not to impair the local amenity of residents. The proceeds of sale will be reinvested into other policing capital projects to benefit the residents of Cheshire.
8. There is a feeling that Cheshire Police is “abandoning Frodsham and the surrounding areas”, this following the restructure back in 2015. Reassurance is needed that the proposed changes would in fact enhance the existing service, with more visibility and access to the PCSOs as allowing them to book on and off at Frodsham would enable them to spend more time in the communities they serve.
Comment: Separate to this proposal the Constabulary is reviewing the model for PCSO deployment and visibility.
9. There was also concern raised about whether this move to the fire station would be a permanent move as the fear is that it wouldn’t be and then Frodsham would lose any police presence at all.
Comment: The move is not intended to be anything other than permanent.
10. There was also some positive feedback around the proposed changes, with one member of the public stating it was “a brilliant idea” and another saying that “it was an eminently sensible move”.