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Question mark hangs over closure of Chard and Ilminster police stations
LEADERS in Chard and Ilminster fear crime could rise if police stations across the area are closed.
Nick Gargan, chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, said no stations are safe as the force looks to make savings of £8million in 2014/15.
It means the future of stations in Chard and Ilminster are uncertain as police bosses continue their review into resources.
Deputy Mayor of Chard Garry Shortland said closure of the town’s station would be “devastating.”
He added: “Chard has a bigger population than Ilminster, so I think if they close any they would close Ilminster.
“Any station closing in a town would be a devastating blow to its people, especially losing the safety aspect.
“There are certain types of people in the population that are more prone to needing more reassurance than others.”
As reported in the News last week, 134 police officers will lose their jobs over the next 12 months but it is not yet known in which areas.
More than 60 of those will be police constables – and more could go next year after Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said £12-15million would have to be saved in 2015/16.
Nine custody suites are closing across the force area and officers are looking at closing “middle-sized, under used” stations. Ch Con Gargan said no station is exempt from possible closure.
Mayor of Ilminster Emma Jane Taylor said it is important frontline officers are retained across the town.
She said: “No community will want to lose its police station. However, it is more important that we retain our police men and women.
“After all, they are the ones who engage with the public – they are the ones who responded to 999/101 calls, not the stations.”
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said a decision is yet to be made but it is looking at all possible options.