VETERAN COUNCILLORS FEAR DECISION IS ALREADY MADE
Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine, Councillor Margaret Tolerton, Jonathan Craig MLA, Gretta Mahood District Policing Partnership and Chief Inspector Darrin Jones at the meeting. US4711.105A0
LISBURN Council has supported a motion to oppose any move to close police stations at Dunmurry and Hillsborough.
At Tuesday night's monthly meeting the Chair of Lisburn DPP Councillor Margaret Tolerton, asked the Council to oppose any closures "as these actions would have a negative effect on effective community policing the wider Lisburn City Council area."
Mrs. Tolerton said such a move would be a retrograde step. "I say this having cold, hard facts in relation to the proposal, which I understand is being made on pure economic grounds" she said.
Mrs. Tolerton said Lisburn DPP bas already written to the Chief Constable and the Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Policing Board to request a meeting to discuss tbe closures.
"We have had our fingers burnt once before with the closure of Dromara station and the severe damage it does to public confidence and this is something that we want to prevent m both Hillsborough and Dunmurry" she said.
Sinn Fein Councillor Stephen Magennis supported the need to keep Dunmurry station open pointing out that there "has been a change in attitude to the police there".
Councillor Uel Mackin said people in rural areas are "living in fear of being mugged or burgled" and said there was a real need for Hillsborough Station to stay open. "Police need to be on the ground to provide ongoing policing," said Mr Mackin.
The Mayor, Councillor Brian Heading said: "You close a police station and you lose a point of contact."
However, Alderman Jim Dillon wasn't optimistic that the stations will remain open.
He said he seen similar situations in the past.
"No matter how many photo shoots and opposition meetings are arranged the powers that be won't take any notice and I remind you of what happened to Dromara station" he said. "I detest building up people's hopes I won't mislead people. I will do all I can but I won't lead people up a blind alley."
However he appealed to Councillor Jonathan Craig, who is a member of the Policing Board, to "use his influence and vote to keep Hillsborough Station open".
Mrs. Tolerton thanked everyone for their support of her motion but said she was disappointed in Mr Dillon "who thinks the fight is already lost",
LOCAL political representatives have bad a 'frank and informative' meeting with local police commander Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine and Chief Inspector Darrin Jones to discuss the implications of closing Dunmurry and Hillsborough stations.
Assembly member Jonathan Craig and Dunmurry Councillor and Chair of the District Policing Partnership (DPP), Margaret Tolerton, took part. Following the meeting Mr Craig said: "These closures have taken the respective communities by shock and instilled fear and anxiety at the thought of losing a Police Station." Mr Craig said they had a "frank and informative conversation" with the senior officers outlining their concerns about the decision by the Chief Constable to consider the closures.
"Dunmurry is situated on the periphery of West Belfast in an area where dissident activity is quite high," he said.
"Hillsborough Police Station is situated in town where the Queen and other members of the Royal Family reside during their stays here in Northern Ireland."
Mr Craig said concerns over a continued regular police presence and response times were highlighted.
"We will continue to work with the Chief Superintendent and Chief
Inspector in order to ensure the safety and protection of the community
throughout the consultation process" he concluded.
Mrs. Tolerton commented:
"Dunmurry Police Station bas served the local community for many years and it would be very sad to see it closed under these proposals."
She said she feared for the future of Community Policing in the area, especially "given the level of threat that exists from dissident Republicans".
"Police response times remain an issue and have been an issue for some time. People therefore fear that if the station closes this will have a negative impact between making a call to the Police arriving at their door."