No firm news about police move, one year on

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UNCERTAINTY remains over Bo’ness Police Station’s proposed relocation, with no plan in place one year after possible alternatives were first mooted, and as restructuring into a national force looms.

To save cash but maintain services to communities, Central Scotland Police has been examining options for several stations, including Bo’ness, to share premises with other parties.

The Commissioner Street station is underused and not prominently located.

Officers have a briefing in Grangemouth at the start of their shift before being deployed to Bo’ness.

Today (Friday) in an update report to the joint police board, there is no firm news from finance and resources director Roddy Shearer in respect of Bo’ness but a fresh possible public sector property share has emerged.

He reports: “The most attractive option for a police office which would provide the best service to our community is a shared facility within the town centre.

“Outline discussions are ongoing with Falkirk Council in regard to potential use of their One Stop Shop service.

“Community consultation will commence after all feasible options have been identified for consideration.”

Last August, options up for consideration were a swap from Commissioner Street to Weslo Housing Management’s North Street office or sharing NHS Forth Valley’s Dean Road Health Centre.

The then Falkirk area commander, Superintendent Robbie McGregor, said while a visible, accessible police 
office was important, the priority for Bo’ness officers was to be out and about 
engaging with the public and tackling issues deemed vital for the community.

By February, in a board update from Mr Shearer, Weslo had ruled out the first suggestion and a police preference to share a premises in Bo’ness town centre effectively ruled out the further afield health centre.

An offer by Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service to share meeting and refreshment facilities at their Bo’ness station - in addition to a community police facility - was also being considered.

This week, the Journal and Gazette raised several issues with Central Scotland Police, including:

*Why no firm progress had been made after such a long time period;

*How much money the force would save annually by selling the Bo’ness office and sharing premises;

*By what deadline all 
feasible options would be identified;

*What form the community consultation would take.

A force spokeswoman said they were unable to respond ahead of today’s board meeting which would discuss the project.

Bo’ness and Denny are the only police stations out of seven force-wide for which a clear relocation alternative has not yet been identified.

Next April 1, a new Police Service of Scotland comes into effect.

Bo’ness Councillors Ann Ritchie and Adrian Mahoney have not been privy to the One Stop Shop discussions.

Councillor Mahoney said: “I’m interested to hear what the police have to say but the key thing is they maintain a high level of service for the Bo’ness public wherever they are based.

He added: “People want to see officers on the beat, not at a desk. That’s really important.”

Councillor Ritchie said a decision needed to be made.

“They should be out and about and seen, but they need premises in Bo’ness.”