The last remaining police station in the Peak District is to close as the police scramble to make savings.
In a meeting of Derbyshire police’s strategic governance board held on Tuesday, Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles announced that Bakewell was on the list of stations to be axed alongside Wirksworth.
The constabulary will close a total of 58 buildings across the region as part of a strict three-year plan of cuts.
He said at the meeting: “The force will shrink and be totally different at the end of the decade in comparison to what it was at the start of it.
“There was over 100 buildings in Derbyshire but we are having to rationalise and reduce our estate by half.
“That means we have to make tough cuts and it was simply a question of bobbies or buildings?
“The government has taken money from frontline policing to prop up bureaucracy – it is unacceptable. The concequences of the cuts will take the government back 30 years.”
Chief Constable Mick Creedon said the level of cuts were unprecedented and way beyond what anyone could have imagined as being part of the future of policing in Derbyshire.
Former PC Sandra Wetton who campaigned to save Bakewell Police Station said she was disappointed, but not surprised by the announcement.
She added: “The thing is we saw it coming, but the really annoying thing is there’s been no public consultation and that’s the worst thing.
“We’ve had no opportunity to talk about it.”
Sandra, who lives in Bakewell, said: “It means we get a second rate policing service. But time will tell if it affects the crime figures.”
She collected 2,000 signatures on a petition to consult on the possible closure of the station, which she handed to Alan Charles personally, however Sandra said she all she received was an email from his office saying nothing had been decided yet.
Sandra continued: “If they could replace the police station with somewhere that was still central and visible.
“Once it’s gone it’s gone, we will never get it back.
“This is the most visited town in the second most visited national park in the world and the only remaining police station in the Peak District and it’s closing, which speaks volumes.”
The cost–cutting plans will see a reduction in the number of safer neighbourhood team officers and police community support officers. The overall number of police officers is also expected to fall by 64 over the next year with more reductions in 2016 and 2017, with more by the end of 2019.
An increase of 1.99 per cent council tax was also approved at the meeting, in a bid to balance the budget.
Mr Charles said: “We are working very hard to minimise the risks of our financial difficulties on public safety but this will inevitably result in changes, including fewer police officers and staff, changes to roles and a reduced number of police buildings.
“Difficult decisions will continue to be made based on threat, risk and demand.
“Increasing the precept this year will enable us to take some of the sting out of the current cuts and strengthen our base budget in the future. Despite these current difficulties the chief constable and I remain totally committed to shaping a service that will deliver the best performance possible.”
Chief Con Creedon said the majority of the buildings being closed have few officers within them and are not regularly visited by the public.
He said the force has had to prioritise people over buildings to protect services and channel funds into the most critical areas.
Since 2010, the force has shaved £24m off the budget, which was achieved through some very difficult choices including a freeze on police officer recruitment levels and a reduction of some 162 police officers and 269 staffing posts. By 2019/20 there is a projected reduction of 260 police officers.