An even thinner blue line as cuts bite deep

Bamber Bridge Police Station

Bamber Bridge Police Station

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Police chiefs will close 13 police stations and 14 public front counters across Lancashire – including several across Chorley and South Ribble – as part of huge budget cuts.

The front desk in Bamber Bridge will shut, while police stations at Adlington, Wheelton, Croston, Eccleston, Mawdesley, Parbold and Rufford will be closed and sold off.

A total of 18 rural police houses will also be sold after a three-month public consultation, to which more than 11,000 people responded. There were also 10 petitions received.

As a result, police have reduced the number of front counters to close from 21 to 14 – however, Chorley and South Ribble were especially badly hit.

The closures are part of efforts to hack £42m off the force budget by 2015.

Closing front counters and stations will save around £890,000 every year, and bring in an estimated £4.5m from one-off sales. The counters will close on June 1 next year.

The front desks at Chorley and Leyland Police Stations will remain open, and continue to be a base for police officers and staff.

Chief Constable Steve Finnigan said: “I know we are not going to please everyone. Some people will be disappointed, and some will be delighted.

“I think some people thought this was not a true consultation. I think it absolutely was.

“Although we have had to make some very difficult decisions in respect of closing some of our public counters and buildings, we have also been able to keep more than we had hoped for.”

He also addressed the Government’s insistence that budget cuts could be made without touching the frontline and said: “That’s a load of tosh, we can’t do that, and yet we are working really hard to minimise the impact on the front line.”

He added: “What I’m not going to say to divisional commanders is that I expect to see big double-digit reductions in crime, which we have seen.

“We have to be more realistic, and there will be more gradual reductions in crime, I think.

“We will say here at Lancashire Constabulary we have an aspiration, a determination, we still want to focus on what we are here to do – investigate crime, detect crime, protect people, and ultimately deliver a really high-quality service.”

The Chief Superintendent responsible for Southern Division, which covers Chorley and South Ribble, admitted tough decisions had to be made.

Graham Coulston-Herrmann said: “Clearly there will be some disappointment associated with the closure of the Bamber Bridge front counter, but it’s important to remember that the station will still be operating as a base for police officers and staff, and, therefore, a visible policing presence will be maintained.”

Chorley Council leader Peter Goldsworthy said: “We are pleased that the only police front desk in Chorley will remain open. However, the council is against the closures of the smaller outlying stations across the borough.

“Now that the consultation period has ended, we will be working with the police to look at ways we can provide community bases for neighbourhood police officers, similar to the ones at Clayton Brook Asda and in Euxton.”

In Southern Division, police will continue to have Neighbourhood Policing Officers available at: Euxton Parish Community Centre; Asda, Clayton Green; Moss Side Community Centre in Leyland; Worden Sports College in Leyland; Chorley Hospital; Kingsfold Community Centre; and Brickcroft Nature Reserve Visitor Centre.