COMMUNITY leaders and police officers could soon be neighbours in a deal being drawn up for them to share premises.
Endon Police Post will be closed at the end of March by Staffordshire Police as part of a spending review, with officers expected instead to book in and out at Leek.
But Endon with Stanley Parish Council chairman councillor John Sambrook confirmed at a meeting that the authority had stepped in to help.
He said: “Endon is covered by a PCSO and Special Constable, and when this comes to be they will have to travel into Leek every day to book in, and they will then be told where to go. It could be anywhere, not necessarily Endon.
“So we have suggested that they could possibly use our council office in Station Road as a base.”
Parish clerk Dennis Boulton said that he had spoken with the police, who want to move at the end of this month when their current situation will be untenable.
He added: “They will need a computer, phone, broadband and a locker for their kit, which they will supply, and anything else they need.
“They will also need 24 hour access seven days a week, and will not interfere with any council business, the clerk’s duties, meetings and so on.
“The priority is its use as a council office and they will agree to pay a rent and be responsible for the care, protection and insurance of equipment.
“The bottom line is that if they don’t have a presence in the village we will get less cover, so it’s common sense and it’s better having them with us than nowhere.
“There have been problems around the area with anti-social behaviour and vandalism, and it would provide closer contact with the council and police.
“I suggest a six month contract so we can see how it works, because if we suddenly find we’re inundated with people, and I can’t do the parish work, then it becomes something unsustainable.”
Councillor Christina Jebb, who was a member of the former police authority for 24 years, said: “Our police base serves Endon, Bagnall, Brown Edge, Stanley and Rushton.
“It is the parish office first and we don’t want to create any difficulty, but the alternative would be local pubs and shops where they would set up surgeries and people could see them there.
“PCSOs and Special Constables don’t have vehicles provided, unless there are any spare – they had a car until five months ago, which was provided by the district council – otherwise they have to use their own car, walk or get on buses.
“So they would have to get between here and Leek to book in and out and could even be allocated elsewhere in the Moorlands.
“They would make a saving of more than half what they are paying for the current police post and will be more in the heart of the village, so people will see them patrolling more and they will be coming and going from the office all the time. so it will be a good deterrent following the recent spates of vandalism in the area.”
Inspector of Staffordshire Moorlands Local Policing Team Claire Riley said: "We absolutely want somewhere that’s more accessible and central, and the parish office seems to be the perfect solution.
“Moving in with the parish council is more cost effective, beneficial and absolutely makes sense and we’re in negotiations. It is in a hotspot area so our visibility would be in the right place.
“The police post wasn’t visible enough and wasn’t somewhere the public went into very often.
“It wasn’t a public open facing police station or inquiry office; it wasn't really accessible in that way.
“We want to be more mobile and visible across all the different communities, rather than just being in one place, and there are lots of drop-in places we’re looking at using for the public to come and speak to us.
“Of course there are cost implications and if we can reduce costs we’re going to make changes.
“We have got to save money and there is a review force-wide, but I believe that there are better ways anyway.
“Do we want officers stuck in buildings? No, we want them in the community.”