Hampshire’s new Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes has today finally sealed the fate of the force’s £10 million white elephant HQ on Chandler’s Ford Industrial Estate.
The former Police Authority had bought the Apha Park office complex on Electron Way in 2008 for £9.6 million and has since spent a further £1.8 million on it.
The plan was to transfer the county police HQ t from its current location at West Hill in Winchester to Chandler’s Ford bringing 500 jobs with it into the borough.
The West Hill site was to be sold for housing development thereby subsidising the move – Eastleigh Borough Council are persuing a similar strategy by moving from their purpose built Civic Offices at Fleming Park to Eastleigh House.
However the recession effectively put paid to the Police Authority’s ambitious plan.
In 2011 the Police Authority put forward an alternative proposal to sell off part of the estate for £3 million and transfer some of the Constabularies services there at a cost of £9 million however refurbishment costs are now estimated to be over £15 million and the new PCC has swung the axe.
Since 2008 almost £10 million has been tied up in a derelict office – which has become a target for vandals – while the Hampshire force has had cope with cuts to their budget. As Alpha Park was bought at the height of the property boom in 2008 and commercial property values have fallen considerably since then, it is unlikely that the cost of purchase will be recouped.
The announcement today is part of a series of measures to streamline the constabulary’s estate and to cut costs.
Other actions include:
– moving the current police HQ at west hill to a smaller HQ at Mottisfont Court in Winchester
– building two new Police Investigation Centres (PICs) in Basingstoke and Portsmouth to provide short term custodial care and support quicker processing of detainees
– building on successful partnerships with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and local councils enabling officers and staff to work from alternative locations such as at libraries and fire stations
– progressing with a programme of engagement with local people, to discuss moving Safer Neighbourhoods Teams (SNTs) into the heart of the communities they serve.
A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary told Eastleigh News it was not anticipated that Eastleigh’s Safer Neighbourhoods Team would be relocated from the town’s Police Station although redevelopment of the Leigh Road site – there were proposals to sell off part of the site for housing – was still a possibility. All options could still to be considered.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, Simon Hayes said:
“Today is about a new direction and building the right foundations for the future.
“That means getting rid of back office buildings that we don’t need and investing in new facilities and partnerships that will help us to make Hampshire and the Isle of Wight safer places
“We will announce more when we have greater clarity on public finances and as the chief constable develops his operational plans but we now have certainty on the big decisions that will allow us to get rid of unnecessary buildings that cost the public money.”
Commenting on Mr Hayes’ decision, Hampshire Constabulary’s Chief Constable Andy Marsh said:
“Having the right buildings is key to a more effective and efficient police force – one that puts victims, witnesses and the community at the heart of policing.
“This will help to meet the needs of police officers and staff for generations to come, reducing long term costs and enabling us to build on the success that we have had in reducing crime in recent years.”