It’s the end of an era for Ampthill Police Station as police chiefs confirm it is to close ‘over the next few months’.
The town has had a police base since the 19th century, but after the station shuts its doors for the last time operations will move to The Hawthorns at Flitwick.
Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner Olly Martins confirmed the outcome of a review into the station’s future yesterday.
He said: “It is very regrettable that we are in a situation where these tough choices need to be made but we have to get on and make the best decisions with the resources we have.
“If we can save money by reorganising our estate more effectively based on public use and footfall, and invest in improving our frontline capability then this is the sensible decision to make.”
Mayor of Ampthill Paul Duckett said:” We’ve had a police station in the town for many years. It will be a real shame if it closes.
“We are already concerned the police are not a presence in Mid Bedfordshire and are more focussed on Luton anyway. It’s a sad day for Ampthill.”
The force has had to make £15m savings so far from its annual budget, this year set at £102m, but has a further estimated £15m to find by 2018/19 due to government funding reductions. The existing estate costs £3m a year to run and the Commissioner aims to reduce this by six per cent over the next few years as part of an efficiency drive.
Mr Martins added: “I appreciate that in Ampthill the relocation of the local police patrol base to Flitwick may be seen as a retrograde step for the town but it is important to remember that we are not abandoning these communities, and in fact police officers will be spending increasing amounts of time on patrol in the town thanks to the adoption of mobile technology.”
Research revealed Ampthill’s front counter received an average of just 4.5 visits per day during February and March 2013. Of the total 179 visits recorded only four were in relation to crime – which is one per fortnight.
Footfall data across the force area showed that beyond the three busier stations in Bedford, Dunstable and Luton, front desks at the other stations are visited very infrequently.
Police say the Ampthill data also suggests that the station is in the wrong location for public access and as a result alternative premises with lower running costs have been identified in Flitwick