Reaction to news five stations in North Devon will close and alternatives be found

‘Regrettable’ but ‘understandable’ are among the reactions to news five North Devon police stations will close in the next three years.

It was announced on Thursday that Ilfracombe, Braunton, Pilton, Holsworthy and Torrington would close, but a police presence would remain in each community.

With Devon and Cornwall Police looking to make savings of £29million, the aim is for more cost-effective buildings such as smaller alternative facilities or sharing bases with other emergency services and councils.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said the force faced challenging budget reductions set by the Government and added: “We are not removing ourselves from our communities, we are being more efficient and organised around where we base our people to ensure we continue to deliver the best service we can.”

It is proposed to close Pilton within the next year and see officers relocate to existing facilities, presumably Barnstaple Police Station.

Ilfracombe would be closed and replaced with a ‘tri-service’ building, possibly the fire station.

Holsworthy is looking at a neighbourhood team or community base, as is Torrington. Braunton’s station could become a community base shared with the parish council.

Council chairman Derrick Spear said the closure was ‘deeply regrettable’ but added: “We have been working on a joint venture which will enable the police to retain part use of the building while at the same time, by purchasing the building, we can expand its use for the community of Braunton.”

Councillor Brian Greenslade, former chairman of the old Devon and Cornwall Police Authority, said in light of ‘vicious’ Government cuts the closures were an ‘understandable budgetary reaction’.

“Visible policing and public contact is important to the policing by consent agenda,” he said.

“I think we must examine the detail of these changes very carefully and fight to ensure North Devon gets a fair share of the diminishing resources.”

He said in the past he had suggested a continental style approach where instead of static buildings, people carrier vehicles were used by officers as mobile police stations.