- Pressure on the PCC to abandon controversial plans to close Solihull Police Station reaches new heights as 3,500 petitioners call for the proposals to be scrapped.
- The petition was launched by borough MPs Dame Caroline Spelman and Julian Knight in response to the decision.
- The Town’s MP Julian Knight led a debate on this subject in Parliament.
- Cross-party councillors from across the borough have also issued statements widely criticising the move.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, is facing criticism from local MPs, borough councillors and residents after plans to close Solihull Police Station were announced without a full public consultation in February.
Responding to the decision, local MPs Julian Knight (Solihull) and Dame Caroline Spelman (Meriden) launched a petition calling on the PCC to reject the proposal. Solihull’s MP, Julian Knight, also led a debate in Parliament on the issue in which he told MPs that standing up for the town’s police station is a ‘top priority’.
In addition to Solihull, 23 other police station across the West Midlands are set to close in a controversial move which would leave only two stations open to the public.
To date, the MPs petition has been signed by over 3500 people on change.org, with petitioners citing the importance of retaining a local station which many say serves as both a deterrent of crime and whose geographic location helps the police to provide faster response times.
Last week, at meeting of Solihull Council’s Cabinet, Conservative councillors voted unanimously in favour of deferring any proposal to close Solihull Police station pending a full public consultation and a promise of greater investment in front-line policing in the borough.
Julian Knight said, “The number of signatures on this petition is clear proof that, as the Policing Minister said in my special Parliamentary debate on the closure plans, the PCC has completely failed to bring the public with him on this important issue. It’s time that David Jamieson started listening to the serious concerns that local residents have about the future of our police station.
“It cannot be right to leave our town without a proper police base when the Police and Crime Commissioner is sitting on over £100 million in reserves and the West Midlands Police just received a £9.5 million funding boost from the Government. The people of Solihull deserve to know exactly what the future shape of local policing will be before any decision is made to close Solihull Police Station.”
Dame Caroline said, “If anything is to be learnt from these past few months, it is that crime in Solihull Borough is no less severely felt by its residents than those who live in the city centre. It would be a very short-sighted decision for the PCC to sign off on the closure of Solihull Police station and I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who has signed this petition to make the strength of local feeling known”.
“In recent days Julian Knight and I have written to the Police and Crime Commissioner, telling him that front-line services must be a priority. We are clear that in the eyes of local residents that includes retaining strategically important stations like Solihull; not least as it ensures a physical police presence in communities and provides a permanent base to allow officers to reach residents in need of their help within sufficient time”.
The full text of the petition can be viewed here. These plans will be given further consideration by West Midlands Police on 20th March 2018.