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Friday, 03 July 2015

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Future of Barrow police station a top priority for new chief

CUMBRIA’S new police and crime commissioner says the future of Barrow’s police station is one of his main priorities as he takes up the role.

LEADING LIGHT: Cumbria’s new police commissioner Richard Rhodes chats with police community support officer Gail O’Neill, who is based in Barrow MILTON HAWORTH REF: 50041602B000

Newly-elected Richard Rhodes was in Barrow this week after being voted in on November 15.

Mr Rhodes, 70, who lives at Staveley-in-Cartmel, is a former Barrow magistrate. His powers include setting policing budgets and appointing the chief constable.

Mr Rhodes told the Evening Mail he wanted to meet with local police and Barrow Borough Council to make sure he had an “an accurate perception of what is happening now”.

An “urgent” priority was signing off on the plans for Barrow’s new police station.

“It’s obviously important, not just in improving accommodation for the police themselves, but a big part of improving the service the police give the community. I would judge it as being pretty urgent,” he said.

Mr Rhodes was not able to say whether his final sign-off on the new facility would come before Christmas. He said: “I haven’t had a chance to speak to the (temporary) chief constable (Bernard Lawson), but I would consider it to be highly desirable to find new premises in Barrow. I haven’t seen the plans, I haven’t seen the files and I haven’t spoken to the chief constable about how much those plans suit his requirements and that’s what I need to do.”

Mr Rhodes has come to the new role at a time when temporary chief constable Stuart Hyde is suspended over accusations of serious misconduct.

Mr Hyde was suspended in September but last month the Independent Police Complaints Commission cleared him of the charges.

An internal inquiry, led by South Wales Police, is ongoing.

Temporary chief constable Bernard Lawson, who is standing in while Mr Hyde is suspended, said he looked forward to working with Mr Rhodes.

Their focus together would be on trying to maintain frontline police officer numbers in the face of cuts that mean the force will have to save £22.5m by 2017, Mr Lawson said.

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