If Dungiven police station goes under the hammer the price tag will be around £150,000, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.
The 0.34 hectare site was acquired by police in 1926 and, according to the latest PSNI figures, costs £74,645 to run each year. Of that, £50,000 accounts for rates. The rest is for electricity and maintenance. It’s one of several stations that could be put up for sale by the Policing Board.
“We’ve had no-one call at the station in the last year,” Chief Inspector Sam Donaldson told a small crowd at a meeting on Thursday about the potential disposal of the station. Even after changing the opening hours, there have still been no visitors to the station, the Area Commnander said.
The cost of getting the station operational for officers on a 24/7 basis would be £80-£150,000. Decommissioning costs - to make it suitable to hand over to another group - would be in the region of £48,000.
“At the end of the day it’s not about a building or costs. This is about a fundmental change in policing and integrating and getting the confidence of the community and that will only be done by civilianised policing on the ground and the delivery of good policing. Now that is not being best served by keeping Dungiven barracks, and I think that reality is dawning on everyone,” said East Derry Sinn Fein MLA Cathal O’hOisin. “I think a number of Government departments, and even local Council, may have an interest. I have heard a number of ideas, such as a park and ride scheme especially with the 212 Goldliner service through the town, for the site. There is potential, but I think it is too big an ask for community groups. I’ve been in around it and it’s completely user unfriendly and was built for a certain purpose and I’m not so sure how it could be adpated for another purpose by a commnity group. I think demolition and re-development of the site is the best option.”
East Derry SDLP MLA John Dallat said such a discussion signalled a new beginning.
“The police station is not part of a modern policing service and has no function and my only concern is that if it is disposed of someone is responsible for decommissioning it and removing it. There are other options about how you maintain community policing, but I believe officers should be out in the community. Administration is not the big issue and there were some great ideas discussed at how local groups could be of assistance by facilitation premises or personnel. I think it’s historic, a new beginning and it’s all for the right reasons.”
Chief Insp. Donaldson said: “There are still mixed views on the station, but I’m heartened by the response at the meeting. I’m really proud of where we’ve come in policing in Dungiven and I would love to see more neighbourhood style policing.”
Regards the future of the station, he said: “A lot of people at the meeting said Dungiven station should go, but there were others who said it should stay and perhaps we should change the image of it, make it more attractive. I’ve an open mind about where the future lies, but I think the future looks good.”
(See further coverage on page 3)