A DECISON to close a police station has been announced as a force continues to try and balance its books.

Cleveland Police plan to replace the office in Yarm with beat surgeries in the town’s library and maximise its use of social media to interact with residents.

The move was announced by Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger in a bid to save £19,000 per year in running costs, as figures show the station was used less than 100 times to report crime in a six month period last year.

In the footfall study from January 2013 until June 2013, there were 596 visits to the police station - with only 90 to report crime. One hundred people asked for directions, 82 for parking issues and parking discs and 62 visits to get telephone numbers.

The remainder were for other reasons including deliveries, lost property, and contractors.

Mr Coppinger said: “I have carefully considered the proposals around Yarm Police Office and I do not underestimate the significance of this for local residents.

“Discussions around the closure of police buildings are always going to be difficult and emotive. But the science behind the proposal is that the building is not being used as it should and we can ill afford to ignore that if we want to work smarter and more effectively.”

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Spittal added: “A key thing to remember is that we don’t police from Yarm Police Office. The Integrated Neighbourhood Team covering Yarm starts and finishes its shift from Thornaby.

“I can assure residents and businesses that policing levels in Yarm will not alter, and our officers will continue to attend residents’ meetings and town council meetings as usual, as well as policing the night-time economy and other events."

However the decision has been criticised by the town’s MP James Wharton, who questioned the commissioner’s reasoning.

“This decision has come out of the blue with no consultation. It will save less than £20,000 per year and comes at a time when the Police Commissioner has just appointed himself a new chief of staff on £85,000,” he said.

"I think most people will wonder what on earth the Labour Police Commissioner is thinking.

"With the introduction of parking charges, the planned removal of cobbles around the town hall and now this I am starting to wonder if the Labour Party has a vendetta against Yarm.”