North West Wales

999 concern at North Wales Police 'hub' plans

Stryd Moch, Pwllheli
Image caption Gwynedd council will argue the Lleyn peninsula needs its own 'hub', especially during busy times

Money-saving plans to reorganise North Wales Police response units have raised concerns in Bangor and on the Lleyn peninsula.

The North Wales Police Authority wants to create "hubs" at Caernarfon, Llangefni, Dolgellau and Porthmadog.

Opponents of the plan are questioning the locations, which they claim could lead to a lack of 999 emergency cover.

A police authority spokesman said officers would be "forward deployed" to "hotspots" to respond to calls.

Nigel Pickavance, from the People of Bangor Community Group, said the university city should have more not fewer police officers.

He said he was "shocked to hear by chance" that under the plans the city would not have its own hub, but would be covered from Caernarfon, nine miles (14km) away, instead.

There had also been a "lack of publicity" which meant there was very little time for the public to get their responses in before this Thursday's deadline, he added.

"I think what they've done is a bit sly, as the details are on their website, but how many people go and read that," he said.

"This needs to be challenged, and I've set up a Facebook page to try and get as many people as possible to e-mail their views in," he added.

Mr Pickavance said he thought the locations of the new hubs had been chosen "geographically, not in terms of population, which would have been fairer".

Gwynedd council will discuss the issue on the Lleyn peninsula in a meeting of the council board on Tuesday.

A report before the board notes that councillors had expressed "doubts" that the police could reach any incident on the Lleyn peninsula within 30 minutes, especially during busy times. It said a hub at Pwllheli was needed.

Image caption The university city of Bangor cannot rely on police cover from Caernarfon, says Nigel Pickavance

Cuts could adversely affect policing, and there was a need to recognise the "different needs of urban and rural areas, especially where there are substantial changes in population at various times of the year".

Council chief executive Harry Thomas concluded that the police, as with all other public bodies, were having to cope with fewer resources.

"We should all aim at these times to try to operate creatively to protect essential service, and as noted in the report there is concern in the light of the rural nature of the county," he said.

The police authority's chief executive, Tal Michael, said it was important to recognise that the response hub" location would only be where officers report for duty.

"Officers will be 'forward deployed' to hotspots so that they are ready and waiting to respond to calls," he said.

"An important element will be the change in shift patterns for neighbourhood officers, so that some of them are always available at peak times, and will be able to response to calls in their local area," he added.

Mr Michael added that the document "does not imply other police stations will close".

Some "cashable efficiencies" might be found by selling off some police estate and "changing how we deliver a service to some of our public", he said.

But there will be no details available until after a structural review is undertaken.

"If police stations do close in the future, then full consideration will have been given to providing a policing service in that area," he added.

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