North Yorkshire Police to use former base of rural payments quango as new HQ

NORTH Yorkshire Police has announced plans to move its headquarters to the former Rural Payments Agency offices, in Northallerton, nearly a year after a previous scheme was scrapped.

Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police Dave Jones pictured with Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan at Fulford police Station, York...1001452b..11th June 2014 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

The county’s police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan says she has given approval for the force to purchase the Alverton Court site to replace its current base at Newby Wiske Hall.

The decision comes ten months after Mrs Mulligan announced that controversial plans for the force to build a ‘Northern Base’ in the village of South Kilvington, near Thirsk, would not go ahead.

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She said North Yorkshire Police would instead base some of its facilities and operational staff at neighbouring Cleveland Police’s planned Community Safety Hub at Hemlington, on the North Yorkshire Border.

It is now proposed that Alverton Court, which has 5,100 square metres of floor space and was vacated by the Rural Payments Agency in February 2014, will be the base for most of the staff currently at Newby Wiske.

Mrs Mulligan said in a statement today that the cost of moving to the new base by late summer or early autumn 2017, including relocation costs and fitting out the offices, would be under £7 million.

She said this would be £12 million less than the plans to move to South Kilvington and a saving of £4 million compared with staying at the Grade II listed Newby Wiske Hall.

She said: “I have been committed to getting North Yorkshire Police a modern new headquarters, and I hope this is the first step to fulfilling that promise.

“There is some way to go before contracts have been signed, but this is positive news. Newby Wiske costs over £1 million per year to maintain and has big problems with accessibility, facilities and reliable infrastructure.

“This new headquarters will be the catalyst to transforming North Yorkshire Police, which includes a £10 million investment in technology which will see officers spending more time in our communities and better protection of our borders from travelling criminals.”

North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Dave Jones said: “This is a very positive decision. We do have issues with the access and facilities at our current HQ – which is understandable given that it is a Grade II Iisted building – and Alverton Court will provide accommodation that is more in line with our requirements as a modern police service.

“There is still some way to go before the sale is finalised, but we are hopeful that we will bring it to a conclusion over the summer.”

The decision to move the Rural Payments Agency, helps to make Common Agricultural Policy support payments, traces livestock and carries out inspections, from Alverton Court was announced in 2013 as part of Government cost-cutting plans.

Mark Robson, leader of Hambleton District Council, said: “We are delighted to see plans to bring the former RPA building back into use by North Yorkshire Police.

“Its closure was a huge blow to the town - coming within weeks of the announcement of the closure of the town’s prison, affecting both local jobs and the economy of the town.

“Boosting the local economy is one of Hambleton District Council’s key priorities - the RPA building forms part of the Central Masterplan the council has drawn up for Northallerton Prison and the area around it .

“We hope to see the area redeveloped into retail, leisure and workspace as well as new homes and with the prison handed over to the council last week we are now pressing ahead with a very exciting development for the centre of the town. The police move will form part of that.”