Police spending cuts hit Axe Valley

Axminster and Seaton police stations will close to the public

AXMINSTER and Seaton police stations are to close their front offices – victims of the savage spending cuts announced this week.

Although both will continue to be manned by officers they will no longer be open to the public.

But people calling in an emergency will not be ignored, police have stressed.

News of the closures was greeted with outrage when it was announced at Axminster town council on Monday night.

PC Darren Herridge read a statement from Inspector Antonia Weeks in which she said most people now preferred to contact police by telephone.

A review had shown a significant reduction in the numbers using the enquiry offices – some 90 per cent of crime was now reported over the phone and the numbers of people attending with documents had fallen by over 50 per cent.

Most Read

Ins. Weeks said across the region 34 enquiry offices were earmarked for a phased closure over the coming months.

Locally, Honiton would amongst 23 to retain its front office with extended opening hours.

She said the move would save The Force more than �5million over four years – the equivalent of about 36 police officers out on the street.

News of the closure plans was greeted with dismay by councillors.

John Jeffery was furious that no senior officer had attended to explain the reasons behind them.

“I thought at least a Sergeant could have come,” he said. “That letter from the Inspector is an insult to the town council from a paid public servant – I have seen a better letter put together by a primary school pupil.”

In another bombshell PC Herridge revealed that he is to lose his position as community beat manager for the town in the new year.

He said his four year role had been the happiest time of his 21 year police career.

“You are a wonderful bunch of people – really good to work with,” he said.

Councillors, who gave PC Herridge a standing ovation, paid tribute to his work.

Mayor Ron Jones said: “It is with deep regret we are losing you – you have been an asset to the town.”