ALLO ALLO, Ballymoney’s old police station has finally been demolished!
The old Westoncroft House on Charlotte Street became nothing but rubble as the bulldozers rolled in to town last week.
Once described as offering ‘third world conditions’, the former station will be replaced by a multi-million pound state-of-the-art facility.
Over the years much speculation has been expressed as to whether the new station plans would actually go ahead following numerous delays, funding concerns and policing cuts.
However the news of the demolition work has been welcomed by the local community and officials including Ballymoney’s Chief Inspector John Magill.
Speaking at last Wednesday’s District Policing Partnership meeting at Riada House, the police chief explained: “I am please to say that the old Westoncroft House has finally been knocked down.
“The rubble is now being taken away - it’s the end of an era for Ballymoney. November next year is the date for the new station to be completed.
“The building work at the new site will get underway soon and we are trying to keep any disruption as minimal as possible for residents. We hope not to inconvenience anyone too much.”
Back in March the Acting Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board Brian Rea confirmed that the planned new build project would commence having been supported by the Policing Board and included in successive PSNI Estate Strategies.
Mervyn Storey MLA commented: “Mervyn Storey said: I welcome that the fact that the work is progressing. There was a time in the past when I was concerned that Ballymoney would again loose out,and that the capital investment in a new police station would not go ahead.
“I have had numerous meetings with the police over the last few years to ensure that this project goes ahead. I have also in recent months meet with the Ass Cheif Constable to discuss issues regarding the new station when it is operational”.
Chief Superintendent Nigel Goddard said: “News of the replacement station comes as a welcome boost - it is not only an investment in policing but an investment in communities too. The Police Service are committed to ensuring that the people of Ballymoney receive the personal, professional and protective policing service they deserve. As part of that, it is our aim to work towards achieving a modern fit for purpose station facility, which meets the needs of the local people and the police personnel working there.
Policing is not just a building; it is about a growing confidence between police and the community and we continue to work with other agencies and voluntary organisations to deliver the best possible policing service to the people of Ballymoney.”
The capital funding for this new build (around £5.2 million) has been secured within the PSNI Budget for 2011/12 using a carry forward of funds from the 2010/11 financial year.