Police and council set for �23.7 million shake-up

POLICE and county council services across East Suffolk are to be concentrated in two centres as part of a new �23.7million cost-cutting move to bring the public sector together.

The Civic Drive police station in Ipswich is set to close in 2013 as part of the county-sponsored “single public estate” initiative.

Many of the functions of the police station will transfer to St Edmund House on the corner of Rope Walk and Grimwade Street which the police will share with some county council departments.

Other police departments will move to Landmark House on Whitehouse Road on the edge of town.

It had already been announced that the police station’s cells would close when a new custody suite opens at the Suffolk Police Headquarters at Martlesham next year.

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As well as closing the police station – whose site could then be redeveloped – the move will also enable the county to shut several other premises around the country.

The cost of the reorganisation is �23.7 million – although county officials hope the move will save �500,000 a year and will enable people in Ipswich to have “one-stop shops” for public services.

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However, the opposition at Suffolk County Council called for all the details about the deal to be published.

Among the county sites to be sold off are Belstead House in Pinewood. The offices at Tower Street in Ipswich will also be sold.

The county will surrender its lease on Kerrison, near Eye, and the Whitehouse social services offices in Ipswich.

Woodbridge police station will close and be sold off. Most of its functions will be moved to the new offices in Ipswich or police headquarters – although the neighbourhood police team will stay in the town, probably based at Suffolk Coastal’s offices on Melton Hill.

Needham Market police functions will move to the new offices in Ipswich and several small buildings used as offices in Martlesham, Ipswich and Stowmarket will also close. Stowmarket police station will be unaffected by the proposals.

Chief constable Simon Ash said: “We were faced with a position where we had to make some significant changes – especially in relation to Ipswich police station which really is not fit for purpose any more.

“We would have had to spend millions bringing it up to a basic standard and that would have faced more problems in the not too distant future.

“So the chance of working with the county to create a new estate was too good to miss.”

Suffolk county council deputy leader Jane Storey said the savings made would be considerable.

“The �500,000 that is quoted here is a net figure - it is after the costs of servicing the loan that we have to take out to pay for the properties are considered.

“And there could be more to come as well – we would like other public sector or voluntary sector organisations to join us in these premises and that would improve the viability of the overall scheme.”

Opposition leader Kathy Pollard was concerned that all the details should be published.

She said: “When this was discussed in the confidential section of cabinet, we had difficulty in getting all the figures from the administration.

“They sound all right, but given the lack of confidence many people have in their figures we really ought to have everything published so we know exactly what figures we are talking about.”

At a glance:

Premises closing:

Ipswich police station.

Woodbridge police station.

Needham Market police offices.

Belstead House.

Kerrison, near Eye.

Tower Street, Ipswich.

Whitehouse Social Services Centre, Ipswich.

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