The petition of residents of Solihull,
Declares that local residents have great concern over the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner’s proposals to close Solihull Police Station.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner to reconsider his proposals to close Solihull Police Station.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Julian Knight, Official Report, 5 June 2018; Vol. 642, c. 279.]
Observations from the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service (Mr Nick Hurd):
Prior to the police funding settlement, I spoke to each police leader from each force in England and Wales. The Government understand that police demand is changing and becoming increasingly complex. We have responded by providing a comprehensive funding settlement which increases total investment in the police system by over £460 million in 2018-19. This includes increased funding to tackle counter-terrorism and increased funding for local policing through Council Tax precept.
The 2018-19 settlement is resulting in an increase in funding for West Midlands Police of £9.9 million this year to £534.3 million. This increase in funding reflected the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) decision to use flexibility to increase precept provided by the Government. The West Midlands (PCC) held £106 million resource reserves in March 2017 (20.2% of total cash funding), an increase of £26.9 million from 2011.
It is important for forces to make best use of available resources including making efficient use of front counters. I understand that the West Midlands PCC has stated that of the 24 stations set to close in the West Midlands over the next six years, only two are currently open to the public—Sutton Coldfield and Solihull. He has said that this will free up £5 million a year to invest in improving police buildings and will protect 100 officer posts. The PCC has also given an undertaking that no police station that is currently open to the public will close without being replaced by a building nearby.
However, the Government appreciate the residents of Solihull’s concerns regarding the decision of the West Midlands PCCs to close Solihull police station in late 2020. As I said in the House on 6 March, this decision is an active choice made by the West Midlands PCC and he has to make an argument to the public about why this decision is being taken. It is clear that Mr Jamieson has failed to take the people with him on the sensitive issue of police stations with public counters and I urge him once again to engage with the people whom he serves.