Secrecy row over proposals to axe police station

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LEEDS North West MP Greg Mulholland’s has claimed “secret talks” were held about proposals to close Otley’s police station.

The Liberal Democrat MP has condemned discussions held about a year ago between West Yorkshire Police and the Labour-controlled Otley Town Council to move the town’s neighbourhood policing team into Otley Civic Centre.

Mr Mulholland said: “Local people will be stunned that there have been secret talks about the possibility of closing Otley Police Station and it is disgraceful that the Labour-run council have been trying to withhold this from residents.”

Coun Carl Morris, of Otley Town Council, said police approached the authority through Leeds City Council with a tentative proposal to use the back of the Otley Civic Centre building. Coun Morris said because it was an exploratory approach, police asked for the proposal to remain confidential.

Coun Morris said Mr Mulholland was aware of the police proposal as early as January, adding: “Greg Mulholland has launched a cynical attack without any regard for the facts.”

Leeds District Commander, Chief Superintendent Paul Money, said: “Some months ago, prior to the recent move to creating one Leeds District Police Division, West Yorkshire Police did have very speculative discussions to look at the options for accommodating local neighbourhood policing officers at Otley Civic Centre.

“At that time there were no firm plans developed beyond what was a scoping exercise. If this had developed there would have been a full consultation to seek the views of our local communities.

“The creation of one Leeds policing district means we are now not considering any such move at this time. Although we are still working on the detail of our new operating model, our priority is to ensure neighbourhood policing officers and PCSOs remain locally based, serving local people.”

Chief Supt Money added: “For clarity, it is anticipated that Otley police station will remain as 
a key police deployment base from which we will continue to provide local policing services to the Aireborough and Wharfedale area.”