Would you pay 65p a month to save police office?

Thames Valley Police Winslow Neighbourhood Police Office sign
Thames Valley Police Winslow Neighbourhood Police Office sign

Would you pay extra on your council tax, to keep your police office open?

Winslow Town Council is looking at ways it can keep a police presence on its streets, after the shock news its police office is to close.

Thames Valley Police announced this month that it plans to close Winslow Police Office in May, in a cost-cutting move.

Now the town council is holding an emergency meeting on Monday night to discuss what can be done to stop the closure, or at least mitigate the effect on the town and its surrounding villages.

Mayor of Winslow David Barry said: “I took advice and listened to everybody’s comments and called an extraordinary council meeting to discuss the closure of the office and whether or not there’s anything the council can do to keep a police presence in the town.”

Mr Barry, who also chairs the Winslow & District Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG), said he has “complained bitterly to police” that they had not consulted the NAG before making the decision.

Winslow Police Office was only reopened in 2010, and its front desk is staffed from 10am to 2pm six days a week by volunteers.

Town councillor Llew Monger said: “It’s a really valuable presence in the high street. Because all the police shifts start and end there, we have a greater police presence in the high street. It provides a comfort factor to the community. It’s something called ‘social return’.”

The running costs of the office are about £13,000 a year.

Mr Monger said: “It looks like the avenue we’re going to have to go down is finding a way to fund that £13,000 a year.”

This would mean a slight increase in residents’ council tax bills. With about 2,000 households in Winslow, the sum would equate to about an extra £6.50 a year, or 65p a month, on council tax.

Nearby Newton Longville Parish Council already pays £16,697 a year towards a PCSO for the village.

Winslow Town Council has set its precept for the coming financial year but Mr Monger suggested the first year could be funded out of reserves.

And he issued a challenge to local businesses to step up and consider sponsorship.

He said: “There may be businesses in Winslow that may want to contribute to the retention of a police office in town. It’s time for some of our millionaires to step up for the community.”

The extraordinary meeting of Winslow Town Council is at 7.15pm on Monday in the High Street offices.