Caerphilly town’s ‘new’ police station is set to close just over a year since it was opened to the public, Caerphilly Observer understands.
The building, on Cardiff Road, was officially opened by Gwent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert in September last year.
Housed in a former mobile phone shop, the base cost the force £145,000 to buy and a further £170,000 to refurbish. Gwent Police said the station will remain as an operational base for officers, but that its public front desk service is under review. It is unclear when the station will close to members of the public.
Plaid Cymru councillor Colin Elsbury, who represents the town centre St Martins ward on Caerphilly County Borough Council, said: “It’s appalling that a town the size of Caerphilly, which is the principle town in the County Borough, will yet again be left without a police station. It’s also deeply concerns me that taxpayers’ money has been squandered on this.”
Caerphilly Town Mayor Cllr Mike Prew added: “Considering the fanfare around its opening last year and the cost to the public of buying and refurbishing the building I’m shocked that this decision has been made. How can this be reassuring to the public or in anyway maintaining a visible presence in the town both to protect and to deter crime.”
The force’s Deputy Chief Constable Pam Kelly said: “We can confirm that no police stations within the Gwent policing area are closing. However, I can confirm that we are reviewing the provision of front counter services and how frequently the public use them.
“Current research has shown that front counter services are not used very often by members of the public and therefore we are reviewing opening times and the availability of this provision across the force area. In the case of Caerphilly, the station will continue to be used by the neighbourhood team.
“The public will be informed of the final outcome of this review in the very near future.”
Councillor Jamie Pritchard, who represents the Morgan Jones ward for Labour on Caerphilly County Borough Council, previously campaigned for the new station.
He said: “The deputy chief constable has confirmed to me that Caerphilly Police Station will not be closing. Having campaigned for years to establish a station in the town centre, Labour councillors in the Morgan Jones ward will now make the solid case to Gwent Police that no front desk counter services in a town as big as Caerphilly should be removed.
“We ask Plaid Cymru to get behind our campaign instead of spreading information they know not to be true.”
The station on Cardiff Road is the third police station to close in Caerphilly town in recent years. The original, on Mountain Road, was closed in 2011. Its replacement was opened that same year on Market Street in the former offices of the Campaign newspaper. That remained opened until it closed in January 2016.
When the new Cardiff Road station had its opening last year Gwent PCC Mr Cuthbert said: “One of the most common issues raised with me since my election is the issue of police visibility and the provision of police stations.
“It’s about getting the balance right between provision and reassurance, which includes having a responsive police service and well located police stations.
“I want to ensure that we provide an accessible policing service in Gwent which adequately responds to local need and provides assurance to the community. This new station is part of that commitment.”
A spokesman for Mr Cuthbert said the station would not be closing, but that “Gwent Police is however reviewing its front counter services (station enquiry officer roles)”.