A LOCAL MP is calling for another former police station to be reopened as he believes policing cuts have gone ‘too far’.
John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, says a new station is needed in areas like Wath or Swinton - and he wants current stations to be open to the public.
Having started an online petition, which can be found on his website, John is determined for officers to reopen the former Wath station which closed more than a decade ago following funding cuts.
He said: “I fought the closure of the police station in 2010 and have been trying to get it back in the years since.
“Our local police have been facing big cuts in funding from the government.
“We’ve lost 500 officers and 20 per cent of funding £55m over the last decade.
“Finally, in September 2019, South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable backed my campaign and pledged to ‘work towards re-establishing a permanent police base in Wath’.
“We now have a new Chief Constable, and I’m determined South Yorkshire Police should keep to their word.”
Stephen Watson was the chief at the time and said that it would cost more than £200,000 to get the derelict station up to shape - but there is fresh hope now Lauren Poultney has taken over the position.
John added: “Over the next three years the police will have recruited 487 additional officers as part of the 20,000 the government wants to see recruited nationally, plus a further 220 from local resources.
“These officers will all need somewhere to work from.
“The government are now saying police spending should increase but we’re still 9,000 officers down on 2010.
“And they’re not providing enough funding, so local taxpayers are having to plug the gap, which means areas like ours are losing out.
“This is wrong - government funding should be fair for all and there should be no winners and losers when it comes to public safety.”
South Yorkshire Police axed its former Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) structure in a bid to slash £8.1m from its budget in 2015 - a widely criticised decision which saw bobbies being taken out of the communities they knew and moved to Wombwell.
But a U-turn was performed following the backlash and an initial four hubs - in Barnsley town centre, Goldthorpe, Kendray and Royston - began operating in 2017, joined by officers based at Cudworth and Penistone in 2018 and Hoyland last year.
According to bosses, the increase in neighbourhood teams across Barnsley is part of the ‘force’s journey to deliver outstanding neighbourhood policing’.
With additional officers working at core times with a ‘proactive preventative approach’, bosses hope to see a reduction in crime and deliver a higher level of service to communities, tackling long-standing issues such as burglary and antisocial behaviour.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “The government’s accepted that there was a link between falling police numbers and rising crime, especially house burglaries and crimes associated with gangs and drugs.
“Two things are now starting to happen as a result. First, more police officers means that more places will have to be found for them to be based.
“In some parts of the county this could mean we look again at existing police buildings that may have been closed. To take one example in the Barnsley district, we will again be using the police station in Hoyland for uniformed officers.
“More police will also mean more officers for neighbourhood teams. These valuable teams were another casualty of the cuts, but they are being restored with both PCSOs - who were often all that remained of neighbourhood policing - and officers with the power of arrest.”