White elephant, albatross or turkey? The bizarre decision to spend £11m on a new headquarters for Hampshire police which was never used is a hybrid of all three creatures.
Whichever way you look at it, it was a disgraceful waste of taxpayers’ money.
Now, at least, somebody has done something about it, but the damage has been done.
Alpha Park at Eastleigh was hailed as the new 21st hub for Hampshire Constabulary. But it has never been used.
The decision to buy it was made by the old puller of the force’s pursestrings, Hampshire Police Authority. That has now gone the way of the Alpha Park dream. Scrapped.
The authority spent £3m more on it than it was worth and while it has stood empty there has been another £1.8m of costs on top.
Now the man who replaced the authority, in tandem with Hampshire’s new chief constable, has seen sense and decided to sell Alpha House and the force’s existing HQ in West Hill, Winchester.
The county’s police and crime commissioner, Simon Hayes, announced the long-awaited move with force chief Andy Marsh.
Mr Hayes says the buildings will be sold as quickly as possible and the money ploughed into policing in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
That’s all very well, but we have to agree with John Apter, the chairman of the Hampshire Police Federation, who says lessons must be learned from what he has called the Alpha House ‘soap opera’.
He says: ‘I welcome the fact that the decision has at long last been made, but we cannot ignore the fact that the decision to purchase Alpha Park did not have universal support.’
He is right when he says that all this comes at a time ‘when police officer numbers are being reduced and police staff are being made redundant.
‘It sticks in the throat how such public money can be wasted and thrown away.’
We can only hope that the cash from the sales of the two properties will be spent wisely, hopefully on increasing the police presence on the streets.