CLOSURE - BUT WHAT’S NEXT?

editorial image

It’s “no great shock” Dungiven PSNI station is to close, but local councillors are concerned about what’s to become of it.

SDLP man Michael Coyle and Sinn Fein’s Sean McGlinchey said the Northern Ireland Policing Board’s decision to close the “barracks”, as it is known in Dungiven, isn’t any surprise. They question however, what will happen to the fortified building, and what will replace the station.

“Closure was the only decision that could be made,” Colr. McGlinchey said of the decision announced on Thursday. “Policing is about getting officers on the streets and into communities. The days of the barracks are gone; it’s served its purpose. Those days are long gone and policing must be more accessible.”

Colr. Coyle says he is disappointed nothing has been said about what will replace the Main Street station “in terms of a cop shop or equivalent”.

“We were promised neighbourhood policing would continue, which is a good thing, but I feel we need some sort of cop shop. We were told during the consultation that would be looked at but, by the sounds of it, there are no plans in place,” he told the ‘Journal’, adding there is the fear it could turn into an eyesore.

“However, the question is, will the station be disposed of, or will it be put to some other use because it costs a fortune to maintain?”

Colr. McGlinchey believes most people in the town “don’t care” about the station, but says it should be handed back to government and the site used for the community; for example a park and ride facility.

“No one ever used the station as it was, but something needs to be done with it.

“It can’t be left to become an eyesore,” he added.

Last month the ‘Journal’ revealed if Dungiven police station goes under the hammer the price tag will be around £150,000.

The 0.34 hectare site was acquired by police in 1926 and, according to PSNI figures, costs £74,645 to run each year. Of that, £50,000 accounts for rates.

The rest is for electricity and maintenance.

Decommissioning costs - to make it suitable to hand over to another group - would be in the region of £48,000.