A motion was backed by Denbighshire County Council to work towards a permanent police presence in Prestatyn – but not before a Labour verses Tory row ensued.
At a council meeting today (Tuesday) at the authority’s Ruthin HQ, councillors voted in favour of working towards establishing a new police building in the town centre.
Conservative Cllr Hugh Irving tabled the motion and said the town had suffered since the police had left the town and moved to St Asaph Business Park some years ago.
Cllr Irving explained North Wales Police had then occupied several temporary sites, including council offices on Nant Hall Road – where police had an annex and public phone and shared the building with both the county and town councils.
“There is concern within the Prestatyn community that one of the larger towns in North Wales remains for many years (without a permanent police presence) after the divisional police headquarters local facilities were relocated (from Prestatyn) to the St Asaph Business Park, leaving no tangible police facilities in the town,” said Cllr Irving.
“Every ratable property in Prestatyn contributes at least £330 to finance the police service. In the town there are many new residential developments on the way, so this income will in fact rise as new housing estates are built and new ratable values come in – £330 for every new house.
“So this amount is going to rise substantially, but we will also have an increased population, and with that comes demand, and there are already anti-social behaviour issues requiring frequent intervention.”
He added: “We realise there is little head room in the North Wales Police’s capital programme to build new facilities, but there is an opportunity for Denbighshire County Councilto work with North Wales Police and provide them with premises suitable for local police facilities within the town centre in a project we have nearing completion on Nant Hall Road on the site of the former library, so it is proposed that the council pass a resolution asking the authority to intensify their discussions regarding these premises with North Wales Police and take all action within their power to negotiate terms that will meet this objective of providing a permanent facility for the general public to be able to access in the town centre of Prestatyn where it is badly needed.”
But Labour leader Cllr Jason McLellan said he’d already met with police and crime commissioner Andy DunBobbin a few weeks ago to discuss more than one site.
“We had a good look around the town centre. We had a discussion about potential sites. It was a positive meeting,” said Cllr McLellan.
“I would say this council is already doing what the motion is asking to do anyway.”
But Cllr McLellan appeared to blame the Tories and the previous Conservative-majority council, implying it had made the decision to sell the Nant Hall Road building for development that had once provided a police base.
“I’m going to say this because it needs to be said: This has come from the Conservative group.The Conservative UK government cut policing – 21,000 police officers were taken off the beat between 2010 and 2018, including officers here in Wales and in North Wales and Denbighshire,” he said.
“I’m going to take issue about (with) something Hugh (Cllr Irving) said about the Nant Hall (Road) site having to close. My understanding is that a decision – it wasn’t forced – a decision was made by the previous council to remove both the police presence and the health presence there. So again, we’ve got a motion to have a police presence in Prestatyn, yet the previous council, as far as I understand, removed the police presence.”
Cllr Irving responded, “But we don’t want that sort of political argument here. Let’s have a cross party approach to this.”
After Cllr McLellan explained talks were already under way with North Wales Police, the motion’s phraseology was altered to reflect discussions between the council and police ‘continuing’.