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Relief as police agree to keep a base on Blackbird Leys
BLACKBIRDS Leys residents have welcomed a police decision to stay put on the estate.
Crime fell after officers moved in to their base off Blackbird Leys Road in 2010.
But fears were raised when Thames Valley Police announced in April that it planned to close the office to save about £12,000 a year.
But now the force says it is “confident” it can stay at the estate’s office as it comes close to agreeing a cheaper deal with the landlord.
Gordon Roper, chairman of Blackbird Leys Parish Council, said the council was delighted the police had decided to stay.
He said: “We are over the moon. It is brilliant and most of the residents on the estate will be pleased.
“It works as it is and everybody knows where it is now. They know when it is open and they can go in there discreetly if they want to.”.
He said a reduction in a police presence could have caused crime rates to rise again.
Antisocial behaviour victim Jimmy Hayes, of Windale Avenue, said the estate felt safer with a police base nearby.
The 74-year-old said: “They (the officers) are well known and they are all very polite and friendly.”
He added: “If they had left there would be every chance crime would have gone up. A presence has got to be a deterrent.”
Officers moved in to the base in 2010 after agreeing a lease with owners NHS Oxfordshire. The office houses five neighbourhood officers and five PCSOs.
Writing in the Oxford Mail on Tuesday, Insp Graham Hadley, neighbourhood inspector for Oxford Barton, North East and East, said: “It has been confirmed we are staying as is, at our base in Blackbird Leys which is really good news for us as it means we will continue to be working in the heart of our community.”
Thames Valley Police spokesman Hannah Williams said a deal was likely to be agreed soon.
She said: “TVP is confident the principle of us retaining a presence within the same building, at a reduced cost, is now agreed with the NHS landlord, although the detail of this is still being finalised. We expect this to be resolved shortly.
“The public will not see any noticeable difference in the police office and we can reassure the community the service will be unaffected.
“TVP is pleased with the outcome of negotiations so far with the NHS, and is no longer looking at alternative locations.”
Thames Valley Police is working to cut £56.3m – 12 per cent of its budget – between 2011 and 2015.