Mountpottinger : The £180k-a-year Belfast eyesore that was destined to close
Deborah McAleese reports on the shutting down of Mountpottinger police station in east Belfast
Mountpottinger police station was costing the taxpayer over £180,000 a year to keep open and was only used by a handful of local residents.
From July 2007 to July 2008, just 16 people visited the part-time station.
A public consultation carried out by the PSNI found that 907 residents throughout the Short Strand area were in support of the station’s closure while four wanted the police station to remain.
At a public meeting earlier this year, the east Belfast area commander, Chief Inspector John McKeag, said: “The 100-year-old building is an eyesore. It would be squandering money if there was to be any alterations made.
“It costs over £180,000 to keep the station open each year. It’s financially inadequate, especially through the economic downturn. The nearest station is half-a-mile away which isn’t a great inconvenience.”
Chief Inspector McKeag said that all the police numbers needed for the east Belfast area were covered by nearby Willowfield and Strandtown stations.
The closure of the station was a move also supported by Sinn Fein.
East Belfast Sinn Fein representative Niall O Donnghaile said it would “herald a new beginning to policing” in the local community. The party wants the Department of Social Development to purchase the land and transform it into social housing.
However, some local residents opposed to the closure have said they were concerned about losing a police presence in the area
During a public debate over the future of the station in February, DUP Assemblyman Robin Newton said: “Mountpottinger serves the wider community. There can be no doubt that residents feel much safer when they live close to a police station and there is a comfort factor in seeing local police on the beat. Closing these community-based stations will add to the concerns of residents, especially the many elderly who live alone.”