COUNCILLORS say they have “grave concerns” about initial proposals to move North Yorkshire Police’s headquarters.
The pledge to move the force from its 17th century manor house at Newby Wiske to a modern base were laid out in the draft police and crime plan published on Monday (February 4) by Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Julia Mulligan.
It says the current headquarters, near Northallerton, cost £820,000 a year to run. In her crime plan, Mrs Mulligan reaffirmed her proposal to sell off the Grade II listed building and replace it with a new base and custody suite at another site in Hambleton yet to be named.
But Chairman of Thornton le Moor with Thornton le Street Parish Council (CORRECT), Councillor Ian Woods and Hambleton District Councillor Robert Baker have criticised the proposal, saying they have yet to see any facts or figures supporting it.
Mrs Mulligan has said the draft police and crime plan is designed to be an outline of ideas and objectives she wants the force to achieve over the next few years. She says the next step is for a full business plan for the move to be drawn up in consultation with the police and other bodies.
But Mr Woods criticised the way the argument for moving the 450 staff out of the current headquarters was presented in the crime plan draft.
It describes the outcome of replacing Newby Wiske Hall as “over the long-term, reduced running costs and greater efficiency; improved accessibility, power, infrastructure and agile working spaces; maximising the market value of Newby Wiske Hall leading to its efficient disposal”.
Mr Woods said: “For goodness sake, what is an 'agile work space'? This is something that affects people’s working conditions and people’s lives.
“This is on the table; it needs a proper public consultation and a staff consultation. Are they really unhappy with their offices? Are they really 'unfit for purpose'?
"We have grave concerns about this.”
Mr Woods said he thought the proposals should look at how the current site could be made more profitable.
But Mrs Mulligan said it was too early for the councillors to be “making assumptions” based on what was so far an outline proposal.
She said they were welcome to get involved in the forthcoming business plan that would look in detail at the future of North Yorkshire’s headquarters.
She said: “The concerns they raised are legitimate, I have no issue with that, but it’s a little bit early for them to be making assumptions.”