Plans to close helpdesk at Wilmslow Police Station approved

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Following a public consultation plans to close the helpdesk at Wilmslow Police Station as part of a state-of-the-art redevelopment scheme have been approved.

The plans will see the current station redeveloped to create a new, fit for purpose zero carbon station at the site with a view to become fully operational in around Summer 2023.

Cheshire Constabulary say that the new station will not only help save tens of thousands of pounds in both utilities and maintenance costs but will also allow them to sell the remainder of the unused land and reinvest any money back into local policing to help make Cheshire a safer place to work and visit.

Having looked at visiting patterns to the station over the last few years, there is generally less than 20 visitors per week and not all of these visitors require police service.

As such, The plans for Wilmslow Police Station did not include a helpdesk, because over the last few years there has generally been less than 20 visitors per week and not all of these visitors require police service. Instead there be an exterior direct dial phone that connects to the police control room.

Eastern Area Commander, Superintendent Peter Crowcroft, said: "We have carefully considered all the feedback that we have received from the public,

"The feedback received from our communities has helped us take a step closer to realising our exciting plans for a new police station on the same site.

"The decision will allow us to move forward our commitment for an estate that is fit for the future based on operational needs and to have a police service that is truly connected with its local communities."

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Wilmslow Police Station
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Sally Mendham
Wednesday 10th November 2021 at 3:10 pm
My experience has been accessing the help desk has not been easy accessible previously anyway, with restricted opening hours, and I am not surprised by the low numbers using it. A couple of years ago I found an expensive looking SLR camera in the road which I guess had been placed on a car roof and been forgotten as the driver drove off. I wanted to hand it in. I couldn't access the station except by phone even at that time. I was on foot and they wanted me to take it to Macclesfield police station. After a lot of toing and froing I was finally able to leave it locally.
I can understand that cuts may necessitate this action although I think something is lost when the opportunity for face to face contact goes. We know we won't have a help-desk, but it would be good to have details of what there will be in the new police station.
John Harries
Wednesday 10th November 2021 at 3:48 pm
Well I guess that was predictable - I warned regulars to this group months ago of the likely outcome.
According to the article the decision followed 'public consultation' - it would be interesting to take a straw poll of everyone who now reads Lisa's piece to determine how many readers actually knew of the enquiry?
The supposed "visitor(ing) patterns....over the last few years" (20 visitors/week) will reflect the planned manner in which the facility has been deliberately downgraded in importance to the Wilmslow community.
I have no idea what the devil a 'fit for purpose zero carbon station' is but I guess that means an 'exterior direct dial phone'...situated on a convenient wall in some sort of box - believe it or not, that is what we have most of the time right now anyway (yes, a yellow box)!!
More to the point, Wilmslow has exchanged it's perfectly good, modern police facility for
- "a state-of-the-art redevelopment scheme"
- "allow them (Cheshire Police) to sell the remainder of the unused land and reinvest any money back into local policing"
- "The feedback received from our communities has helped us take a step closer to realising our exciting plans for a new police station on the same site"??
and in conclusion do you know what that boils down to
- "to have a police service that is truly connected with its local communities"

They can't even put out a credible statement - Wilmslow have lost the above but we will now have a NEW 'phone so Cheshire Police will be truly connected to this community...lost for words
Julian Barlow
Wednesday 10th November 2021 at 4:22 pm
It's nothing short of miraculous that those in charge of public budgets can find feedback that supports an increase in costs to the public, whilst simultaneously giving a big thumbs up to reduced services.

Of course it could be that the Helpdesk is used infrequently because the police station only opens during daylight hours (except over the weekend when it closes completely) and those pesky criminals do insist on operating at night. Still, anyone who's been robbed, mugged, beaten up or had their property stolen will be reassured by the fact that their local police station is zero carbon.
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 10th November 2021 at 5:24 pm
@Sally
The Police & Crime Commissioner did seem responsive to the idea of an entrance lobby for residents, which would contain information on how to contact your local PCSO and a direct phone / video phone link to an officer, probably one based in Macclesfield. I will follow this idea up with him when the building designs materialise.

@John
I toured the police station recently and was very surprised to see how much of it is now obsolete and unused. It looks fine from the outside but don't let that fool you.

A very large part of the current building holds a large custody suite with about 12 cells plus further ancillary rooms for the duty sergeants, nurses and jailers who would have run this unit. However, this whole area has not been used for years and is unlikely to be ever used again.

Additionally, the interview rooms were cramped and not pleasant for officers to work in, while there are several large, empty office rooms, dated interiors with poor staff canteen and changing facilities too. Clearly, this building has seen better days.

They could renovate it, but how do you repurpose the disused prison cells? The building was clearly designed for something it no longer does, so I can see why they want to start again with a smaller, more modern and cheaper-to-run building.


Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Wilmslow West & Chorley
Anita Willoughby
Wednesday 10th November 2021 at 6:47 pm
I long ago thought hypothetically that if I were in trouble, I would run to the fire station because it is more likely to be open. Not for much longer I hear?
Mark Goldsmith
Thursday 11th November 2021 at 7:08 am
Hi Anita

The head of the fire station visited Wilmslow Town Council last month to update us on their plans.

Don’t worry, they are keeping open the fire station and will revamp it. They had considered a joint police / fire / ambulance building but they can’t make it work, so are keeping them separate.

However, they are not going to man the fire station 24 hours a day. They only get 1 real call (as opposed to a false alarm) every 2 days and the majority of these are during the daytime.

Therefore, it will still be manned during the day but their night shift will be on-call (as happens elsewhere in the borough).

This will save them £270,000 a year, which allows them to buy 9 x 3 bed houses in Wilmslow. All of them will be within 5 minutes of the station and will be rented to their crews at subsidised rates.

This means called out times are minimally delayed but only for the odd occasion they get called out at night. While this is a slight reduction in service, it does demonstrate their long-term commitment to stay in the town.

I would also add that Wilmslow is a safe town and the centre is monitored 24/7 by an award winning CCTV service. If you need help, then during the day the fire station will still be manned. At night, I’d recommend going to one of the bars/ clubs. They have direct communication with the CCTV and police teams and all work in unison to keep us safe.
John Featherstone
Thursday 11th November 2021 at 4:51 pm
i agree with john harries , zero carbon??????? a big joke
Peter Davenport
Thursday 11th November 2021 at 8:07 pm
Does any one know if this nice stretch of almost the only large stretch in Wilmslow, used to be the Village Green or something else, as it will create problems. The only reason as I ask, is that I have seen some diaries of the Davenports of Bramhall, as it states that Whilmlow's name was used many years ago.
Peter Davenport
John Harries
Wednesday 17th November 2021 at 5:45 pm
Mark Goldsmith,
It's all a bit stable door stuff but thanks for your response/comments anyway.
Wilmslow's local policing has been deliberately run down and 'isolated' by design so naturally it looks dilapidated. I can't recall exactly when but the custody facility was moved to (I think Northwich) 4, maybe 5 years ago and then the regional HQ to a new facility in Macclesfield about 2 years back and I believe all normal policing resources for Wilmslow, Handforth and Alderley Edge now operate out of Macclesfield.
Sally Mendham was quite right, I only tried to use the wall mounted telephone 'direct link facility' once, to report a road traffic incident - good job it wasn't too important/urgent because I didn't manage to speak to anyone!! From what I read about the initial 'zero carbon' upgrade we shall probably be offered is a brand new 'phone hung on a new wall in more or less the same location....now that's what I call a really good deal.
Local 'Community Policing Hubs' have been established recently (it was during lockdown for Handforth) - it's actually a notice board on the outside of the Community Centre! Again I've only tried to use it once and arranged to meet a 'nominated police officer' (there was a choice, it could have been a PCSO..) the following day as it wasn't an emergency. I duly arrived for my appointment and waited, after 10 minutes I called the number displayed on the notice board to be told "Sorry sir, we've been 'pulled' to attend a traffic awareness course, can we rearrange...."; I did eventually get my rearranged appointment (not with a bobby but with a PCSO) a couple of days later, standing around in the car park of the Community Centre! Now that really is value for our money.
You also told Anita Willoughby that Wilmslow is "a safe town" (in relation to CCTV and the fire service), what about crime? These very columns recount weekly burglaries and car thefts galore because the rogues know the cops are not about - they are all tucked up in Macclesfield(!!). The service is purely reactive now, there is no deterrent nor prevention at all because they are literally invisible - working at arms length perhaps 20-25 minutes drive away (I'm happy to be corrected on this statement).
Sure, the close down can be justified because it's all been choreographed. Our three communities have at the very least doubled in population in the past 50 years, back then Wilmslow had a police station (with cells) and a Magistrates Court. Alderley Edge had a substantial sub-station and there was a small unit in Styal (I don't recall anything in Handforth) - soon we shall have just a dedicated 'phone line, now you go figure that sum.
We're getting screwed over for services and our assets are going elsewhere. Shameful and we citizen taxpayers sit around knitting and tutting and deserve what we will eventually end up with.
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 17th November 2021 at 7:03 pm
John

I also asked the police sergeant about the rumour they all clock-on in Macclesfield.

He assured me all PCSO’s, PC’s and most of the inspectors based in Wilmslow all clock-on in Wilmslow.

Only a few CID members clock on in Mac as the rest of their team are based there. They have a morning briefing before heading to Wilmslow to work on the cases here.

Interestingly, there is also a forensic accounting team based in Wilmslow for fraud cases. Which, says something about the type of crime we get.
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 17th November 2021 at 9:28 pm
One of the principle reasons given for closing the old Police Station on Green Lane and moving to the purpose-built current site was that it would have a state of the art custody suite, along with the space for a cutting edge operation.

Now the custody suite is defunct and they have too much space!

I’ve been organising a Home watch/Neighbourhood Watch Group for about fifteen years; when I started I had a direct phone number at the Police Station and could get an officer to our area usually in 5-10 minutes, one who would know the area too. Now we have 101 which can ring for ages and if it is answered it’s very unlikely the person will know the area. One young lady even asked me which town Wilmslow was in a couple of years ago!
I don’t see that having a PCC has improved the service at all; it was a daft idea brought from the USA and has never been fit for purpose in the UK.
I’m afraid that the proposed changes will be another reduction in service. I do understand that The Constabulary has been defunded by Westminster over the years but that is little consolation to us, the end-users.
John Harries
Thursday 18th November 2021 at 10:49 am
Mark, thanks again, some interesting points/corrections.
As Pete Taylor states in his first paragraph - what we had as 'progress' is now somehow defunct, I wonder what has made the 'Wilmslow' cells obsolete, introduction of rubber bars perhaps??
Let's be frank, the 'Wilmslow' estate is being treated as a cashcow; where previously estate funds were being re-invested locally it's now redistributed elsewhere, that's my point and "when it's gone it's (really) gone" - and so have the people responsible for those 'business' decisions. If ratepayers actually buy into/accept the present sales pitch that a 'phone access point does the business, so be it but, even on policing issues, caveat emptor...

Maybe funding has been cut but the notion of local policing, what really keeps us safe and confident of security/wellbeing is not represented by a flying squad of a relatively low count of bobbies and as I illustrated, speedy access to a local copper/PCSO just isn't a reality, it's a soundbite, a notion to make us think we are 'covered'.

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