Castlederg reprieve claim fuels hope for Dromore station

A SO-FAR unsubstantiated claim that a number of threatened police stations are now to be spared the axe has inevitably fuelled speculation that Dromore’s PSNI base might be among them.

Saturday, 5th May 2012, 9:00 am

Meanwhile, Dromore community groups and local policitians have collectively written to the Policing Board to protest the closure proposal.

It emerged on April 6 that, despite public protests during consultation on plans to close Dromore Police Station, E District Commander, Chief Superintendent Alasdair Robinson, was proceeding with a formal closure proposal.

That proposal, greeted with shock and anger in Dromore, was one of many to be presented to a Policing Board committee on April 19; also among them was a proposal to go ahead with the planned closure of Castlederg Police Station.

The outcome of the committee meeting has yet to be made public, pending discussion by the full Policing Board later this week.

However, unconfirmed reports have since emerged that the Castlederg station was one of an unspecified number from whom the closure threat had been lifted as a result of the committee meeting.

One local newspaper reported in the wake of the meeting that West Tyrone MLA and Policing Board member Ross Hussey had said several police stations earmarked for closure, including Castlederg, were now to be retained.

Another paper said it understood the Policing Board committee had rejected police proposals and recommended the Castlederg barracks be kept open.

Speculation over the fate of Castlederg, and other comments attributed to Mr. Hussey, in which he notes that consultation meetings in West Tyrone had generally attracted quite a large number of participants, have given rise to fresh hope in Dromore, where Area Commander, Chief Inspector Ken Mawhinney, hailed the consultation response as one of the best in his experience.

At least some Dromore campaigners are daring to consider the possibility that the Policing Board committee might have stuck to its guns in insisting, according to Lagan Valley MLA and Board member Jonathan Craig, that to win approval for closure plans police would have to demonstrate they could continue to command the confidence of the local community.

Said one man who attended the public consultation meeting in Dromore, “It couldn’t have been clearer from that meeting that closing the police station would destroy public confidence in local policing, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the Policing Board to reject this closure proposal. If all this talk about Castlederg is right, we can only hope Dromore in one of the other stations involved and hopefully too, if the committee has recommended Dromore stay open, the full Policing Board will adopt that recommendation.” A spokesperson for the Policing Board said it could not comment on the committee meeting ahead of this week’s full Board meeting.

In the meantime, Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale was among those to insist the fight for Dromore Police Station went on. “I have again contacted Chief Superintendent Alasdair Robinson in writing, to express my disappointment at this recommendation to close Dromore Police Station and I will continue to lobby on the matter,” she said.