DROMORE’S Lurgan Road bowling pavilion wasn’t bursting at the seams during last week’s public meeting with police, but, particularly in light of shifting dates and venues, turnout was solid by some standards and apparently nothing short of outstanding by others.
A packed car-park had given rise to hopes that Dromore residents had turned out in unprecedented numbers to discuss whether the town’s police station was fit for purpose, but it turned out most of the cars’ occupants were at the community centre getting fit for purposes of their own.
Still, with more than 30 people assembled as the appointed hour struck - a number soon to be swelled by latecomers - the event did not fall flat, as some had feared.
Conservative estimates put the final figure certainly in excess of 50, with some insisting the number was closer to 100.
But if the experience of Banbridge area police chief Ken Mawhinney is anything to go by, even the initial 30-plus qualified as a resounding success.
Chief Inspector Mawhinney informed assembled public and politicians he had attended similar consultation meetings for which no more than eight or 10 people had turned out.
He likewise revealed the wider response to the consultation process so far, while modest at best, had outstripped previous processes.
“We have 40 forms back in already,” said Mr. Mawhinney, “and that’s better than in any station process I’ve ever run, plus there’s a couple of petitions in as well.
“I’ve seen six or seven (responses) submitted in the past and that doesn’t send a good message.”
Though not a lot, the Chief Inspector conceded, 40 responses, he stressed again, was more than he’d ever had in previous consultation processes.
Mr. Mawhinney said from the outset of last week’s meeting that its sole purpose was one of consultation and he encouraged everyone present to in turn encourage others to submit their views.
He would be noting, he said, those views and questions submitted on the night and they would be included in the consultation package that would be forwarded first to the regional Assistant Chief Constable and ultimately to the Northern Ireland Policing Board.