Special Meeting of the Hyde Park and Woodhouse Forum

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From left to right in the picture above are, Zahid Butt, Inspector Ian O’Brien, Divisional Commander David Oldroyd, Councillor Gerry Harper and Chris Dickinson. Newly elected councillor Christine Towler was also present at the meeting. The meeting began with an address from Commander Oldroyd.

Commander Oldroyd The depot costs £130,000 per annum to run. We could rent the new building from the university for about £20,000 per annum. Parts of the old building are condemned. The roof leaks. It’s too big for what we need. The majority of it is a huge car park. Our first option was to close it and move to Weetwood or Pudsey. But this wasn’t a practical solution. The clock was ticking with regards to the Environmental Health people and the Fire Brigade. Then we came across the university site which would save us £100,000. We can move everything from Belle Vue Road to the university. We’ve several parking spaces at the rear of the premises. There’ll still be a Starburst Effect as officers leave the new building. I’m not getting into bed with the university.

Sue Thomas There won’t be a Starburst Effect on Kelso Road where I live.

Gentleman Will someone be keeping an eye on the crime rate here after you’ve moved?

Read the full account of the meeting

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6 Responses to Special Meeting of the Hyde Park and Woodhouse Forum

  1. Maggi Butterworth says:

    It’s good to know that Commander Oldroyd is committed to co-location because we at Swarthmore are also committed to it. We have been happily co-located in the same premises with the WEA for almost 40 years. Now that they are moving away, we would be like to offer the space they are vacating to Commander Oldroyd. Should he choose to accept, he and his officers would be moving to our newly re-decorated attic space. They would have their own access to it 24/7, their own networks, training room, kitchen, toilets, burglar alarms, telephone lines, cleaners and 5 car parking spaces in our car park. There is plenty of under eaves storage space, and after 5pm and at weekends, they would have unlimited free access to the Joseph’s Well car park. They would share our bins, and pay for whatever energy they used. Commander Oldroyd’s officers could take up residence shortly after the end of July as the 28 WEA workers who are currently using the space will be leaving at the end of July.

    This space is an ideal location for the police to relocate to and retain their presence in Little Woodhouse. Swarthmore would be very happy to enter into negotiations with the Divisional Commander.

  2. Janet Bailey says:

    We were told that the move to the University campus, having been kept secret for so long, is now already too far advanced to stop. How can this be so? Has Commander Oldroyd already signed a tenancy agreement with the University? Surely this would not have been sensible, as he lacks planning permission for the move and it is clear that he has not even consulted properly with Members which I believe he has a duty to do. Whilst Commander Oldroyd might like to speed this, it is clearly not too late for him to consult the community and to start considering all the options – which is what should have been done in the first place.

    Integrating the police with the community could have enormous benefits for both police and communities, as well as saving police time by basing them where they are needed. If it is true that the Belle Vue Road depot is no longer fit for purpose, then the funds from the sale of the land could fund really imaginative flagship solutions for our area which would be fit for purpose. It may well be that we need policing split on several sites, including as part of whatever is built on this site. But once the proceeds from the sale have gone into national coffers, this opportunity will be lost for ever. We all know what happened here in the Autumn when students and other young people were attacked. This is also one of the most burgled areas in the UK. There are very good grounds for making this area a special case. I am just a bit worried that the prime motivation for this move is financial, to save national police jobs. It would be sad if short term financial needs robbed this area of such an essential resource.

  3. Mercia Southon says:

    I do agree with Sue Thomas about the failure to conduct a community consultation and I find it quite extraordinary to be told that the Police have not been maintaining the Belle Vue Road building – to the extent that there are holes in the roof!

    Why this great hurry to move without conducting a proper community consultation and to consider co-location sites such as the top floor of Swarthmore and Royal Park School? How has the Belle Vue Road building all of a sudden and out of the blue become “unfit for purpose”?

    Surely the Police actually have an obligation to conduct a proper consultation?

  4. Sue Thomas says:

    I thoroughly agree with the last two paragraphs of Bill’s comment. It was a very interesting meeting, but happened about five months too late. If the Commander had started out with the local knowledge that he gained at the meeting he may have been able to come up with a solution that everyone was much happier with. There were many possible options that had not been considered.

  5. Bill says:

    Commander Oldroyd told us that savings of over £100,000 would be made as a result of the move. But we were given no hard evidence to back this up. One was left with the impression that the calculation had been made on the back of a cigarette packet.

    Before such a major decision was made, serious consideration should have been given to all possible options. These should have been evaluated with the assistance of cost-benefit analysis and only then should a decision have been made. And several sites should have been considered, not just one.

    Commander Oldroyd said the decision to move to the university campus was his. He also told us he’s been in the job just six months and that he didn’t have a lot of time to decide. “Act in haste, repent at leisure” is the saying that springs to mind. But in this case, it’s the community that will be repenting for Commander Oldroyd’s hurried decision.

  6. Garance says:

    An interesting meeting last night. Thanks to all who attended. To my mind, a great indicator of the value in not just consulting but in communicating and sharing knowledge with the community.

    Perhaps those at the head of the room are now even more aware how much we welcome Police presence in our area and how much we care what happens to our local spaces and places in the future, and how we would like to be kept informed of plans that have such an impact on us.

    It seems that this was a cost cutting exercise, moving from a garage that was too big, too expensive to run and not fit for purpose, to smaller and more manageable premises on Woodhouse Lane. The alternative might have been to base every one out of Weetwood Police Station!

    We were told that the same number of PCSOs would operate in our area and Inspector O’Brien will be deploying his staff in exactly the same was as from Belle Vue. Inspector O’Brien invited members of the community to meet up with him and look around Belle Vue to see just why it no longer works as a base and to look at the Patrol Plan and even sit in on a briefing if interested.

    Much talk of Co-Locations in the future; maybe sharing space with other services at Royal Park School, or using Swarthmore as a drop in space for officers. Even considering integrating services with Police and Council Enforcement Officers…. watch this space….

    That’s how I saw the meeting anyway. What did others take away from it?

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