Dungiven cop shop to go on open market

Martina Anderson MEP and East Derry MLA Cathal � hOis�n attend the  National Ploughing championship Rathenskia Stradbally Co Laois. (2709SJ100)
Martina Anderson MEP and East Derry MLA Cathal � hOis�n attend the National Ploughing championship Rathenskia Stradbally Co Laois. (2709SJ100)

At one stage it was proposed to form part of a multi-million pound sports and community project for Dungiven but, plans have changed. Now the ‘Journal’ can reveal the former police station in the town is likely to go on the open market.

The station officially closed to the public in April. It had been open for just a handful of hours on alternate Tuesdays previously, but rarely received visits from the public.

Limavady Council had expressed an interest in the station as part of their £7 million sports project for Dungiven, but due to issues that arose with the site they decided against pursuing it.

This week, PSNI Area Commander for the Limavady area, Chief Inspector Sam Donaldson, said the future of the station is in the hands of the the PSNI’s Estates Service. If there is no interest in the site from public bodies, he said, it will go on the open market.

The Area Commander said there is no timeline for disposal of the site as discussions are ongoing. However, it looks likely the station could go up for sale as early as next month, as he revealed an estate agent has been appointed.

In the meantime, Chief Insp. Donaldson revealed cosmetic changes are in line for the station, including removal of the sangar.

The 0.34 hectare site was acquired by police in 1926 and, according to the PSNI figures, costs £74,645 to run each year. £50,000 is for rates and the rest for electricity and maintenance.

The PSNI has revealed if the station goes under the hammer, the price tag will be around £150,000.

Sinn Fein’s Sean McGlinchey said: “I would like to see the station put back into public use.I know the local Presbyterian Church are interested in the site and I feel it should be offered to the Church for an agreed price. Things have moved forward in community policing, and Dungiven is an example to others, so I would like to see an community policing office open up, whether part-time or full-time. There should be a presence, even if it’s clinics on a regular basis.”

SDLP Colr. Michael Coyle believes the future of policing in Dungiven will be best served by officers being based in some type of “cop shop” in the town.

“Ideally you want a building of some sort and, for practical reasons, the police need something, some sort of base. Should it be a cop shop, a rented premises or a room that is leased? It’s all still up for debate.

“I would prefer to have officers in a cop shop and in high visibility vests on the Main Street in Dungiven.

“There is no one answer for the police or the local community.”