POLICE have been criticised over plans to close a station and move to a library.
Hayling Island police station has been closed to the public since 2012 but the seven-strong Safer Neighbourhoods team still work from the base in South Street.
The plan is for the office to move to Hayling library in the autumn – but it still won’t be open to the public.
Councillor Andy Lenaghan, who represents Hayling West, said the public should be able to speak to police and moving to the library was a ‘rubbish’ idea.
‘The police do not want the public to have access to them,’ said Cllr Lenaghan. That’s what they’re trying to avoid.
‘What they should do is make more cuts at the top, like all the local authorities have, so they don’t have to make moves like this.
‘For the second year running the police precept has gone up by almost two per cent.
‘I don’t necessarily think they should stay at the police station but they should move somewhere better than a box room of a library – somewhere the public can speak to a police officer face-to-face.’
Insp Dave Humphries, in charge of policing in Hayling, said there will be no change in policing on the island.
They will simply be moving from an old building not fit for purpose to an office with better facilities in ‘the heart of the community’, he said.
He added: ‘The public will still be able to access the team through beat surgeries.
‘We’re required by legislation to hold at least 12 a year but in reality we hold more than that.
‘Andy’s remarks are probably a little unfair. Hayling police station is very old. It needs a lot of redevelopment and I would not describe it as fit for purpose.
‘The facilities at the library are a lot better, built around the principle of much more modern ways of working.
‘In an ideal world we’d have purpose-built police stations open to the public 24/7 but our funding doesn’t stretch to that. In all honesty, a lot of the front counters don’t get visited very much anyway.
‘Sitting an officer in a police station waiting for someone to come is not the best use of public money.’
The decision to close the station was made in 2013 following a public consultation.