An announcement that Leighton Buzzard police station would be closed for nine days over Christmas sparked such a furious reaction that the force has decided to keep it open for longer.
Beds Police originally confirmed the station’s enquiry office would be shut from Monday, December 23 to Tuesday, December 31 when it reopens for the day between 9am and 5pm before closing again on New Year’s Day.
That would have meant Leighton’s police headquarters would be closed for the longest period of time over Christmas and New Year in comparison to the other stations across Bedfordshire.
But after mayor, Councillor Amanda Dodwell, relayed the concerns of many local residents, who had responded angrily to last week’s announcement, to Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins, the force has revised the schedule.
The LBO was told yesterday that the enquiry office would now open on December 23 (9am-12.30pm), plus December 27 and 30 (9am-5pm) instead of being closed.
That means Leighton is now shut for six days in line with Houghton Regis, Ampthill and Biggleswade police stations. Dunstable’s station closes for three days and Luton HQ remains open throughout.
Leighton’s nine-day shutdown when initially revealed last week prompted fury on the LBO’s Twitter and Facebook accounts from readers, as it coincided with the news of some serious crime in the town in the past week.
Councillor Dodwell had slammed the decision and claimed the town has been ‘abandoned’ by its police force.
She said: “I am surprised they have taken this course of action when the town centre is so busy over the Christmas period.
“We are the third largest town in Bedfordshire, but it feels like Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins is not interested in the town.
“I am concerned about the number of burglaries we have had in the town recently. It’s almost like we’re inviting the criminals in.
“It’s like the town has been abandoned.”
In an email to the mayor, Assistant Chief Constable, Nigel Trippett, said the closure of the front office would have no impact on the number of operational police officers deployed to the area.
But he added: “However I would like to reassure you that we have taken your concerns on board, and in order to allay any concerns, through re-distribution of staff and re-deployment of supervisors, we have reduced the amount of time the front counter at Leighton Buzzard Police Station will be closed to the public over the Christmas period.”
> For more on this story, see today’s LBO.