New delay over plans to move police office

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Plans to move the PSNI’s Portadown enquiry office from Edward Street to the town’s health centre are on hold until April.

It had been anticipated the move would be made before Christmas with the controversial barrier in Edward Street being removed at long last.

But no funding is available until the start of the new financial year. Councillor Gladys McCullough described the delay as “unnecessary”.

“It’s been on the agenda for months. And the move, with the long-awaited closure of the Edward Street premises, was supposed to have been made by Christmas,” said Mrs McCullough.

“There was a delay, due to some sort of covenant involving the borough council’s policy and resources committee. That was quickly sorted out, and the police move was then supposed to be at the start of the New Year, with the health centre the top priority.”

But, said Mrs McCullough, the money set aside for the move was used elsewhere, “and the latest date mooted – at last week’s meeting of the police committee - is immediately the new financial year starts in April”.

“That is unacceptable,” she added. “We’re talking about a small amount of money, and at last week’s meeting of the police committee, I made it clear that Portadown is sick and tired of waiting for this transfer.

“The answer was that they would do their best to find funds from the current budget, and if not, they would make it a top priority in the new financial year. There has been a series of delays and it’s high time this was sorted out.”

She added, “Tor several years now, the Edward Street police station has simply been an inquiry office – far too big, with restricted opening hours. Not only is the street suffering, but the whole town is affected.”

Craigavon Area Commander, Chief Inspector Paul Reid, said, “Premises have been identified, but building work is required to make this site fit for purpose, along with related planning permissions and approvals.

“Like all public bodies, we are working under considerable financial constraints and have to align spending with competing policing priorities. Unfortunately, sufficient funding for the necessary building work for a new police inquiry office in Portadown will not be available in this financial year.”