Station closures lead to petition launch
Yesterday (January 10) councillors in North Down took to the streets with a petition against the proposal to close Holywood Police Station that was announced as part of the PSNI’s Estates Strategy in late 2011.
They are urging ratepayers across the Borough to sign the petition, which demands that the PSNI take immediate action to reconsider the proposal and to retain the Police Station in |Holywood.
They say that the closure would have a devastating effect on ‘public confidence, wellbeing and security’.
The petition was proposed by Alderman Gordon Dunne MLA, Councillor Alex Easton, MLA, Councillor Jennifer Gilmour and Councillor Peter Weir MLA and received unanimous support from all members of North Down Borough Council.
Councillor Dunne said: “In conversation with residents from Holywood and the surrounding area, the extent of public opinion against the proposed closure has been impressed upon me.
“There is genuine concern about the impact the closure would have on people’s safety and security.
“This petition gives residents the opportunity to express their concerns and will be presented to the Chief Constable in due course.”
Councillor Andrew Muir said: “The population in Holywood amounts to 12,000 people, sufficient to justify a strong police presence in the town.
“From an operational standpoint it makes no sense to further burden the Bangor Station with providing support to Holywood on top of its current responsibilities.
“Furthermore, Holywood Police Station is a success story, with an incredibly effective community policing team that is fully supported by local people. We do not want to lose this.
Alex Easton MLA said: “It is vital that the community unite behind this Council’s campaign and oppose the proposed closure — with the size of the population in Holywood and its proximity to Belfast it does not make sense to close.
“We have seen the attack in Palace Barracks last year and with Holywood being a garrison town, it is not a good idea for a proposed closure.”
Mayor of North Down, Councillor James McKerrow, also took to the streets of Holywood to raise awareness of the planned closure and collect signatures from residents.
He said: “There is a cast iron case for retaining Holywood Police Station as it covers a large rural area as well as the town, two substantial military establishments and MI5’s Northern Ireland Headquarters.
“Many ratepayers in North Down have expressed their concerns to me about the proposed closure.
“I hope they, and many others, will now make the effort to sign this petition and ensure their opposition is communicated to the Chief Constable.”
The petition is available for signing at Queen’s Leisure Complex, Redburn Community Centre and Gordon Dunne MLA’s Advice Centre (8 Church Road) in Holywood and at the Town Hall in Bangor.
On Monday, November 14, the PSNI presented its latest Estate Strategy to the Resource and Improvement Committee of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, which highlights Holywood and Donaghadee police stations for potential closure.