POLICE STATION FUTURE?

PSNI chiefs have postponed another 'onsite' meeting over the future of Ballymoney's new Police Station amid fears that work will never begin. Acting Chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Brian Rea was expected to visit the Charlotte Street station yesterday (Monday) to inspect and see first hand the 'third world conditions' that local officers have to work in.

However the meeting, which had originally been scheduled to happen in December, was once again put back due to 'unforeseen circumstances'.

Back in March 2010 the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland Mr Matt Baggott revealed that work was finally set to begin on Ballymoney's new multi-million pound Police Station over the next two months.

Speaking during the March District Policing Partnership meeting the Chief Constable explained: "There has been a budget allocated for the new police station and work is due to begin around April/May time."

Agreeing Area Commander John Magill explained: "The money has been set aside and the site has been prepared for Ballymoney Police Station. The facility will be a modern easy on the eye station and illustrates a long term investment in Ballymoney."

At the meeting, Inspector David Anderson also added: "It is a substantial building and full planning permission is in place. We are expecting the contractor to start in April/May, they will demolish the old Westoncroft House which has already been vacated, and then work on the new building can begin.

"It will take around 18 months to build, so we're looking at late 2011 completion date."

However since then little movement has been made and a number of 'onsite' meetings with officials including the Acting Chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board Brian Rea have been postponed over the last month.

In a statement to the Times North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said he has held further discussions with the PSNI and the Policing Board over the building of Ballymoney's new police station and vowed to 'keep the pressure on'.

He explained: "Because of the severe weather before Christmas a planned meeting with the Chairman of the Police Board and representatives from the PSNI estate branch and myself had to be cancelled.

"The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the progress regarding the new build. It is planned that the meeting will now go ahead very soon, however over the weekend I have had further discussions with the Board and the PSNI regarding this matter and I am reasonably confident that a further announcement will be made soon.

"Given the current financial climate and the pressure on all organisations to cut their cloth, it is understandable that there has been concern as to wither or not this station would ever be built.

"I have endeavoured to keep the pressure on the Board and the PSNI so that the much needed new station does not fall foul of the current financial crisis."

Jonny Donaghy, Ballymoney District Policing Partnership Manager added: "Ballymoney District Policing Partnership have continually raised this issue since its formation at both public and private meetings, writing to the PSNI about the 'third world conditions' that local officers have to work in."