Work has started on the creation of a new North Somerset Police Centre at Weston Gateway. Bristol-based contractor Midas has moved on to the site, which is adjacent to junction 21 of the M5 motorway in Weston, to begin work.
The new facility is expected to be complete and operational by April 2017, when officers will be able to vacate Weston Police Station which was sold to North Somerset Council earlier this year.
Once complete, the new police centre will be used by response teams which are currently split between Nailsea and Weston police stations, and also neighbourhood policing teams for the outer Weston areas, Worle and the surrounding villages.
This will allow the response teams to easily access the motorway and main road network from their base, while the neighbourhood teams will be more central with better access to the local communities they cover.
The new facility will also feature two interview rooms for voluntary attendees and one area will be leased to South Western Ambulance Service for its crews to use when not attending incidents.
Before the closure of Weston police station, the Weston town centre team will move into North Somerset Council’s Town Hall in Walliscote Grove Road where the constabulary already has its enquiry office. This will ensure a policing presence is also maintained in Weston’s town centre.
Local Policing Commander for North Somerset, Tina Robinson, said: “We are looking forward to all our response officers being in one place and having good access to the main road network.
“The neighbourhood police teams are also going to be more central to the communities they serve, making them more accessible to the public and ensuring they continue to carry out quality, local policing.
“It is also important to note that while this new facility will operate as a base for our teams, they will continue to be out in their communities and on patrol for much of their time.
“We are also continuously reviewing our IT capabilities to ensure officers spend as little time in stations as possible.”
Weston Police Station was sold to North Somerset Council in April after it was identified for disposal in the constabulary’s five-year estates strategy due to its high running costs and the fact it is too big for the force’s requirements. The new purpose-built police centre will have much lower running costs, allowing the constabulary to make significant future savings.
While the target completion date of the new North Somerset Police Centre has been pushed back due to negotiations on final details of the project, the constabulary will continue to lease back some space in the current Weston police station to allow officers to remain there until they can move into their new base.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, said: “The new police centre will really make a difference to the way the constabulary is able to access and police the local communities of North Somerset. The location of the centre enables officers to carry out their role more effectively and efficiently and ensure they are there when local people need them most.
“Keeping neighbourhood teams in the Town Hall and having outer neighbourhood teams and response officers based at the new centre ensures that we can continue to meet the policing needs of our local communities. The purpose-built facility will also be more cost effective, helping to make significant future savings and ensuring value for money for local people.”
Derek Quinn, Executive Director for Midas Construction’s Wales & Wessex division, said: “Midas is delighted to be the contractor of choice for this project. We have a huge amount of experience working at Weston Gateway having delivered a number of buildings at the site over the past few years. Once opened, the new facility will enable the police to continue their vital work across the region.”
Cllr Nigel Ashton, Leader of North Somerset Council, said: “This is another milestone in partnership arrangements and the reception area in the Town Hall is already a well-used facility offering joined-up services to residents. We have an excellent working relationship with the police, with their officers already working out of Castlewood in Clevedon. We look forward to welcoming them to the Town Hall.”