Commissioner begins talks on future of Coleford Magistrates Court site
Posted: 12/12/2012 08:43:23
Preliminary moves to make Coleford a hub for police and criminal justice services in the Forest of Dean are underway, councillors were told last night (Monday).
Gloucestershire’s new Police and Crime Commissioner said the first objective was to take possession of the town’s former magistrates’ court site which adjoins the police station.
“I have instructed the estates department to enter negotiations with the Ministry of Justice to acquire the freehold because we need to have security of tenure for many years to come,” Martin Surl told Lydney Town Council.
“Had we moved in with the Forest of Dean District Council, which was planned, we would have lost the security of a freehold site with the likelihood we would have never found a suitable place again.
“We have a really good site we can develop. This is about creating a base for criminal justice in the Forest of Dean.
“I have asked the Chief Constable to develop plans for what a police hub would look like and which other services could operate from the site”.
As Gloucestershire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr Surl has responsibility for the Constabulary’s budget and setting objectives. He first raised the issue of the closure and sale of the Forest of Dean’s police stations in April when he called upon the outgoing Police Authority to defer the decision until after the election.
His vision of a new Police and Criminal Justice Hub, based in Coleford, was one of the main themes of his successful election campaign.
“I spoke to lots of people and organisations who were worried the Police were withdrawing from the Forest and it’s important we address their concerns.
“They believe, like me, it is important for law enforcement in the Forest to have its own identity and I believe that developing Coleford as a hub for the Police and other criminal justice services is crucial to that.
“I made a commitment to stop the closure of Coleford Police Station and develop it as an important base for criminal justice in the Forest of Dean and that is what I intend to do”.
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