Top priority remains a strong police presence

Chief Superintendant Richard Bayly.
Chief Superintendant Richard Bayly.

A POLICE chief has said closing Garstang station’s front counter service will save the northern division £100,000 year, but stressed a strong police presence across Wyre would remain his priority.

Chief Superintendent Richard Bayly was speaking as part of the ongoing consultation into the proposed closure of a swath of rural stations as part of planned £42m savings across Lancashire Constabulary over the next four years.

He attended Garstang Town Council this week to give an update and address concerns regarding the proposals to remove the inquiry desk at the Moss Lane station and sell-off the former police station at Bowgreave.

Speaking of the difficulties he faced in finding substantial savings, he said his top priority would be to protect front line services in Garstang and surrounding area.

Chief Supt Bayley, head of Lancashire Police’s Northern Division, which covers Wyre, said: “There is no endless pot of money and the reality is we have limited resources.

“We have got what we have got. The officers in this area care and are passionate about what they do and, in my simplistic world, that is the greatest need.

“I can keep the enquiry desk or lose two more PCs. I can’t have both, as much as I would like to. There are no easy decisions and everyone comes at a significant price.”

Asked by Coun Lynn Harter if there was any opportunity for compromise over the suggested closure, with an option for reduced opening hours, Chief Sup Bayly said: “I have come to take on board comments and that is being looked at as well, but the key thing is consistency and providing the same quality of service across all the stations.”

He added advances in technology meant many of the front counter services could be maintained without the walk-in facility, with communications now faster than ever to help immediate responses to emergencies and systems for allowing members of the public to arrange appointments with officers for none-urgent crimes.

But he admitted work was ongoing to address issues within the division.

“I am very proud of the officers in this division,” he said. “They do a fantastic job in the communities they serve but I know the achilles heel is in our follow-up and that is a driver for me.

“I want us to be a quality outfit and my motivation is to ensure the highest professional standard I would expect from a police service.”

The public consultation will end next month.