The Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, has agreed to release funds from his investment reserves to make significant improvements to Ashford Police Station.
Following extensive research into the future of the building and its facilities Mr Scott has approved a recommendation by the Chief Constable of Kent Alan Pughsley to retain and develop the Tufton Street premises.
A structural survey, carried out in early 2017, identified the external concrete cladding needed replacing at a significant cost and a decision on the future of the building needed to be made.
Welcoming the news, Ashford’s MP Damian Green said: ‘I am delighted that the police station will be staying in the town centre. Many of us have emphasised the importance of a station which people will use regularly, and I am glad the PCC and the Chief Constable have listened. This is a good decision for law enforcement in Ashford.’
Mr Scott said: ‘A number of options were then explored including moving to a rented building, re-locating or building a new station. I have agreed with the Chief Constable that retaining and refurbishing our existing site is the best option when all financial and operational factors are considered.’
Chief Constable of Kent Alan Pughsley said: ‘As a force we regularly review our estate to ensure it meets the changing demands of modern policing, that the buildings are cost effective and represent the best use of public money.
‘Staying at Tufton Street is the most pragmatic option available to us and we now focus our attention on developing the premises so we can continue to offer a first class service to the people of Ashford and the rest of the county.
‘I am pleased the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr Scott, agrees with the force’s recommendation.’
While Kent Police uses a wide range of buildings and premises across the county, it is the Police and Crime Commissioner who owns the buildings and ultimately decides on their future to ensure the best use of public funds.
The development work at Tufton Street is expected to take approximately 18 months to complete, subject to relevant planning permission, and during that time there may be some disruption to some services available to the public.
Mr Scott added: ‘The future of Ashford Police Station has been the subject of much speculation in recent months. I hope today’s news provides certainty for the officers and staff based at Ashford Police Station, as well as to the wider community.’
Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: ‘We are delighted with the decision made by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable of Kent Police to renovate and refurbish Ashford Police Station. It is vitally important that a growing borough such as ours has a police presence in the heart of the town centre so this is very good news.
‘We will continue to support Kent Police as they keep our communities safe and will work with them to ensure our borough remains a safe and pleasant place for our residents, businesses and visitors.’