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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Cumbria police buildings sell-off raises £1.7m to fill budget black hole

MORE than £1.7m has been raised so far from the sale of police stations and buildings in Cumbria.

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building the future The new police station for Barrow takes shape in Andrew’s Way. New figures have revealed that the sale of closed stations has so far raised £1.7m. Barrow’s Market Street station will eventually be disposed of HARRY ATKINSON REF: 50067259B000

Documents have revealed the sums paid out to date in the big sell-off, which was launched to slash costs in the wake of budget cuts.

A report also reveals the status of a number of properties that are still waiting to be sold.

The sale was launched more than two years ago following a review of all force stations, offices and buildings to see if they provided value for money and met the needs of communities and local squads.

Figures gathered for the county’s crime commissioner, Richard Rhodes, show a total of £1,771,100 has been paid for properties so far.

The highest individual sum was £327,000 following the sale of Keswick police station. Pub chain JD Wetherspoon is opening a bar on the site. The lowest was £45,600 for Millom police station.

Dalton police station was sold for an undisclosed sum last October and planning permission has since been granted to change the building into a home.

The crime commissioner’s office say Barrow’s Market Street station will eventually be disposed of, once the new station has been completed and is operational. A decision has not yet been made as to exactly how that will be done.

The other property involved in this year’s plans is a police house in Ambleside. It was said at the time of the shake-up that it would save about £119,000 a year in running costs. Stations in Wigton, Cockermouth, Keswick, Maryport, Cleator Moor, Egremont and Alston were also among those chosen to be sold.

A report to Mr Rhodes’ executive board, which includes police chiefs, states: “There were originally four properties that were planned for disposal in 2014/15.”

Some community leaders voiced their disappointment but the force said it was a “small number of buildings” that were “under-occupied and under-used”.

Officers said the way people used stations had changed and visitor numbers were in decline, while technology allowed police to do more while out and about.

The first stage in the construction of a new Barrow police station got under way this year.

The new edge-of-town £8.1m headquarters will become the hub of police operations for Barrow and Ulverston.

The Andrews Way site was chosen due to its availability and the proximity to the A590 to allow rapid staff deployment.

The building will provide a base for around 270 staff over three storeys and was chosen due to its public transport links and easy access to Barrow and surrounding communities.

The existing Market Street station has 10 cells while the new station, set to be fully operational by 2015, will have 18 cells accessed through a secure vehicle port.

Originally the development was estimated at £6.5m but after consulting frontline staff the number of cells has been increased from 14 to 18, contributing to the almost £2m increase.

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