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Police taken to hospital as base on estate shuts down
NEIGHBOURHOOD police officers are hoping they can keep a healthy presence in Wood Farm after moving into a hospital.
Thames Valley Police announced in May that the estate’s office in Atkyns Road would be closed and the seven-strong team would move to Cowley police station to save £14,000 a year.
But yesterday the team moved to a new rent-free office at the Churchill Hospital in Old Road.
Supt Christian Bunt, Oxford Area Commander, said residents would not see a loss of service.
He also said he hoped the move would ensure officers were easily accessible and he was grateful to the hospital for providing the space free of charge.
He said: “I am sure that the public appreciate that the force has to constantly review its costs to make sure we are focusing our money on maintaining officer numbers and keeping them on the frontline.”
The team is made up of seven officers including five PCSOs, a PC and a sergeant. They will hold regular Have Your Say meetings with residents outside the hospital entrance.
Supt Bunt said the team would start and finish their duty at Cowley Police Station, but patrol the estate during their shifts.
Thames Valley Police announced in March it was to shut and replace several bases in the county in a plan to save £829,000.
The move will see replacement offices found in Barton and Rose Hill. The Blackbird Leys base will either remain in Blackbird Leys Road in a reduced form or also move.
Mark Lygo, Oxford City Council member for Churchill, said: “Although it’s not an ideal solution not having a base in Wood Farm, I’m pleased that the new base will be nearby at the Churchill Hospital.
“I fully understand that TVP have to constantly review its costs on frontline policing, which is a priority for the residents of Oxford.”
Richard Bryant, secretary of the Bullingdon Community Centre, said: “If they are going to close the one in Wood Farm for economic reasons I am pleased it’s relatively close compared to the alternatives.”
But he added: “There is always a worry it will diminish the effectiveness of local policing.
“If it does result in a loss of neighbourhood police that would be seen as a negative thing by the local community.”
Rachel Collins, security manager at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are very pleased that we have been able to accommodate the local neighbourhood police team at the Churchill Hospital site, and hope we can continue to work together successfully in the future.”
In May last year, the Oxford Mail revealed that a volunteer-run cafe was being charged £25,000-a-year in rent to stay in its cafeteria space in the John Radcliffe Hospital’s West Wing.
The League of Friends, which raises thousands of pounds for the hospital every year, had had a peppercorn rent for five years.
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