Changes need to be discussed

MP Mary Glindon.
MP Mary Glindon.

Northumbria Police is making drastic changes in less than a fortnight in the public front offices at police stations – either reducing or ending their opening hours.

In North Tyneside, Middle Engine Lane will go from being open all the time to just eight hours a day.

Killingworth will have no opening hours.

Steve Ashman, Chief Constable of Northumbria Police, commendably and candidly concedes that they are still wrestling with the impact of austerity, and the cuts they have faced in Northumbria are the largest of any force in the country.

The police also explain this is a response to austerity and also the fact that the public have other means of contacting the police.

They may well have a point on both counts, but it is not reasonable to announce such changes at such short notice.

The Unison union is also understandably concerned about the interests of its members.

I am asking the police to undertake a proper consultation on their proposals and to defer their planned action until they have done this.

It may be that the result is the same or somewhat finessed, but these things have to be done in the correct manner.

This is not because I am standing on ceremony, but because doing it the wrong way today makes it easier to do so on potentially bigger issues.

The police also tell me they will divert savings into changing the way they deliver services and I need to discuss the details with them.