Community leader warns Saxmundham police station deal must provide value

Purchase of a police station to create new facilities must bring real benefits for all residents and not become “a glorified home for the council”, a community leader has warned.

Councillor Don Tricker said Saxmundham Town Council’s bid to buy the police station was a real opportunity for the market town.

The original idea had been to create a youth hub, but latest proposals envisage better offices for the town council, a meeting place and information centre for the public, while Suffolk Constabulary intends to lease back part of the building as offices for the Safer Neighbourhood Team members.

Mr Tricker said: “We have to be careful because the public will be looking at this money we are spending and will want to know what they are getting out of it.

“I don’t want to see a glorified home for the town council and the police without some real benefits for the community, otherwise I don’t think it will be looked as great value. We need to do something of quality and value.”

Council chairman John Fisher said the police station would become a community asset and would allow people to get information and advice, and would help make services much more accessible, especially as the current town council office was difficult for some people to access.

Finance committee chairman Roger Plant said the council had offered £125,000 for the building, expecting £50,000 of repairs on top of that sum.

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It has agreed to take out a loan of £250,000 from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) to make the purchase and pay for the renovation and conversion of the building in Station Approach.

Mr Plant said: “The PWLB loan is only valid until May so – allowing for the time conveyancing takes – we need to get out fingers out and get this moving otherwise we will lose our opportunity. We have the money in the budget.

“In the long term, this is the only piece of community land not being developed for domestic housing in the centre of the town. If we don’t do this now, whatever it becomes – a place for the CAB to meet people, or other organisations to hold events or meetings – in the future, the opportunity will be lost and we will sit here and regret it.”