Councillors urged police to reverse decision to close Benllech police station

The deputy leader of Anglesey Council has urged police bosses to reverse a decision to shut a village station which covers one of the biggest settlements on the island.

North Wales Police announced last month that the £7,500 annual running cost of Benllech Police Station is no longer viable given its “infrequent use,” with the PCSO working from the station having been moved to operate from Llangefni last year.

But with plans to decommission the station from September 30, a local councillor has urged police bosses to think again, citing the village’s popularity and growth as a popular resort.

According to Cllr Ieuan Williams, the village and nearby area has seen a growing population which trebles during the summer months with the opening of several caravan parks and holiday home occupants.

Cllr Williams argues that the 3,278 homes in the community represents a precept of almost £1m for North Wales Police when also taking nearby  Pentraeth, Moelfre and Llaneugrad into account, which he argues justifies the village retaining its own station and a full-time PCSO.

In correspondence with North Wales Police, he added: “I feel that concerns have been dismissed without taking this into account, which saddens and disappoints me.

“With the starting salary for a PCSO being £23,503, I take it that the upper salary is no more than £30,000.

“Taking into account an oncost of £38,100, this still represents only 4% of what the community contributes to the service.

“With that taken into account, isn’t it fair and proper that the area is provided with full community policing considering our contribution? I would argue that it would.”

Praising the work of PCSO’s which previously covered the local area, and were based at the station, Cllr Williams added, ” I believe that a building, which isn’t being used at present, and community policing go hand in hand.

“This is the third biggest settlement after Holyhead and Llangefni and in my view, this needs to be taken into consideration.

“On its website North Wales Police claims that 11 PCSO’s operate on the island but I haven’t seen any recently.”

North Wales Police has been approached to comment, but in a letter to the island’s MS last month, Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones stated that there hasn’t been a public enquiry counter service at the station for a “significant number of years,” with plans to reinvest the income from its sale into the force’s estate.

Noting that policing has “changed dramatically” over recent years, he added: “Officers are no longer sitting in conventional offices in police stations dealing with conventional crime.

“More and more officers need digital skills and equipment to enable them to provide a high quality service to the public. We need to keep pace with the digital revolution.

“North Wales Police has invested in an ambitious transformative digital programme of work which seeks to provide Officers with the equipment they

need to work in this digital context in a truly flexible and agile manner.

“Not only does this help to ensure that we continue to meet the expectations of the public and keep them safe from harm as a result of the ever increasing cyber threats, it also enables officers to remain visible within their

communities.

“This has huge benefits in improving community engagement both within our densely populated urban areas, as well as our harder to reach rural communities.

“The intention is to decommission the station on 30th September 2020 and then place the building on the open market very soon afterwards.”

North Wales Chronicle | Anglesey

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