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Councillors in uproar at police station closures

A COMMUNITY council which has supported policing in Taff’s Well and Nantgarw for two decades is considering cutting all ties with the service in protest at “a lack of consultation” prior to the closure of its community police station.

Coun Jill Bonetto, chairwoman of the Taff's Well and Nantgarw Community Council, believes the police have treated their community with "contempt" and that, in turn, the community and its Neighbourhood Watch team have "lost confidence in the police".

This comes following instruction that community police stations are due to close in Taff's Well, Treforest and Beddau.

Superintendent Simon Thomas confirmed there were plans to put a number of police-owned buildings up for sale or to change their use, but said the move would improve local policing by making PCSOs "more visible" to the public.

He said: "It is important to emphasise that buildings involved were only ever being used on a casual basis by local officers, mostly PCSOs.

"They are not, and were never in recent times, a police station and consequently never equipped as such or advertised as being open to the general public.

"We fully appreciate how people can be reassured by a police-owned building within their neighbourhood, but in reality these buildings add nothing to the service we provide."

Treforest councillor John Bell expressed concern that the Boys' and Girls' Club in Queen Street, Treforest, where PCSOs have been based, might be affected.

He said: "The main issue as I see it is that the station is currently located in premises owned by the Treforest Boys' and Girls' Club and the loss of revenue to them will have a major effect on the sustainability of the building.

"While I am sure I speak for the majority of residents when I say it is unfortunate that Treforest looks set to lose yet another community facility, it is a fact that the force are having to make spending cuts and their priority must be on providing frontline policing services."

South Wales Police have, however, accepted an offer to use offices in Taff's Well Community Centre free of charge, which will be of "mutual benefit" by keeping "police closer to the community".

But Coun Bonetto insists that the closure would have happened without the generosity from the Community Centre.

She said: "The closure without any local consultation is treating the local community with contempt.

"In the past, the Community Council has provided equipment, such as bicycles and grants, to ensure that the needs of the community were met, but we will now reconsider this in terms of the police service in protest at the closure plans."

Meanwhile, Pontypridd MP Owen Smith has met local Beddau councillor Richard Yeo, Coun Clayton Willis and other local residents to discuss the closure of Beddau and Tynant Police Station.

Mr Smith said: "I am extremely concerned to hear of the closure of the police stations.

"It is a major concern to me of the potential impact that this could have on crime levels in the Pontypridd area."

Richard Yeo said: "In Beddau and Tynant in 2006, we had one police officer each to cover both parts of the village and two PCSOs. We now have only one police officer and one PCSO.

"I feel that this is unacceptable as we have all been paying for increases of up to 5% in the police precept for our council taxes for several years."

Coun Willis said: "There has been absolutely no consultation with local people about this decision."

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