The plans to relocate Portadown’s PSNI inquiry office from Edward Street to the health centre at Meadow Lane are dead in the water.
Neither the PSNI nor the Southern Health Trust are commenting on the about-turn, but sources in the health centre have told the Portadown Times that the move was deemed “inappropriate”.
The source added, “The health centre is strictly neutral ground where the entire community comes for a wide range of health and social services needs.
“There was a series of meetings between the PSNI, the staff and the trust and it was felt that the two simply would not mix. We have CCTV cameras in the building for social reasons and for health and safety reasons.
“If the police moved in, they – and the presence of CCTV cameras – could create suspicion in a building which is strictly neutral and in a neutral area. The PSNI moving in was ill-conceived from the start. This was agreed at the meetings.”
A statement from the police said, “We cannot confirm or deny the move, but can confirm that police are continuing to look at options.”
However, the PSNI told the Portadown Times at the turn of the year – when the move was supposed to be completed – that it had been delayed until the new financial year (April 1) due to financial restraints.
The Portadown Times asked the health trust for a response, but nobody had come back as the deadline passed.
However, David Simpson MP, who has access to the talks, answered our query - “The plans to relocate the PSNI station to the health centre have been shelved and I personally am pleased as I do not believe that both services are suited to one site.
“I have, however, had an urgent meeting with the Area Commander for Craigavon, Chief Inspector Paul Reid, and left him in no doubt that the PSNI must have a visible presence in the town centre.
“We see a concerted effort to save money and reduce costs by the PSNI, but it cannot be at the expense of a police presence in a town of over 20,000 people.
“It would be a travesty to lose a base for our policing team. The PSNI should not rule out the current site for a new, more bespoke building.”
Residents and business people in Edward Street are weary of waiting for a new police facility, which would do away with the police barriers that have isolated the street from the rest of the town for 40 years.
Solicitor Brian Walker, chairman of Portadown 2000, has been scathing in his comments. “We’ve been waiting for this new facility for years, and for the removal of the barriers,” he said.
“Just get on with it.”