THE decision to relocate neighbourhood police staff has been described as a “hammer-blow” to a town centre community.
But senior officers at Cleveland Police say the decision to pull funding and man power from 173 York Road and relocate officers into Hartlepool Police’s Avenue Road headquarters is the best use of resources.
Police chiefs say there will be “no significant” effect on policing as a result of the move - which will see officers move half-a-mile up the road - and say officers will remain to be active in the areas.
But Hartlepool councillor Jonathan Brash, who refers to himself as independent Labour but is classed as independent by the council, said: “The announcement that the police are pulling funding and man-power out of 173 York Road is a hammer-blow to town centre communities.
“173 York Road provides peace of mind and, as one resident described it to me, a safe-haven for local residents. This transfer of these services damages the hard fought successes of neighbourhood policing and will leave residents feeling less safe, not more.”
The running costs of the York Road premises are currently shared between Hartlepool Borough Council and Cleveland Police and the local authority said it raises questions over the future sustainability of the building, from which the council’s neighbourhood management service is delivered.
This year’s budget for 173 York Road is £32,000 but the loss of police funding will hit the council’s central property budget by £14,000.
The building accommodates the south and central neighbourhood police team, anti-social behaviour officers, victim services officer, neighbourhood development officers and the south and central neighbourhood manager.
Chief Superintendent Gordon Lang, head of neighbourhood and partnership policing, said: “The police commitment to the building began in 2005 with the agreement that it would be for a seven year period.
“This has been reiterated to partner agencies throughout the tenure and on separate occasions throughout this year.
“There will be no significant effect on policing as a result of the move and neighbourhood officers will continue to be active in the areas they always have been.
“The national budget cuts mean that we are forced to assess every aspect of policing including our estate.
“In this current economic climate it’s not the best use of resources to continue to house officers on York Road when we have adequate space at our main police station half-a-mile down the road.
“We remain dedicated to neighbourhood policing and residents will still see their neighbourhood officers on the ground.
“We will continue to work closely with our partner agencies and people can also continue to report any neighbourhood issues at our main HQ on Avenue Road.”
The council’s neighbourhood services committee was due to meet this morning to discuss options for the building.