Councils join forces to fight Police Station Closures
Last Update: Monday, July 9, 2007. 8:58am AWST
Shire Council presidents from regions across the Great Southern affected by the recently announced restructure of Police Stations will be meeting today to discuss how to fight the changes.
The meeting plans were announced on the Morning Show with Irene Montefiore after news broke of the station closures.
Police Stations in Dumbleyung, Cranbrook and Wikipen are set to close under the restructure. The officers are being relocated to neighbouring stations, most of which are around 40km away. The Ongerup Police Station will be moved 65 km down the road to Jerramungup.
According to a Police media statement the stations are being closed because of a below average workload in those areas. The placement of country police stations has been under review for some time.
Member for Wagin Terry Waldron said he and Dumbleyung Shire President Gordon Davidson were coordinating the meeting so the affected Shires could present a united front to speak out against the restructure.
"I just think this an absolute disgrace," said Mr Waldron. "I really am disappointed."
"They're trying to justify it by saying there's not enough work in those areas," he said. "The reasons there's probably not the work there is because the police are there. Where you have police you help eradicate crime and it discourages the criminal element."
"Once again you see the inland areas of country WA are being raided if you like," said Mr Waldron. "We've got to fight this strongly, I know these areas are up in arms."
Shire President of Wikipen Steve Martin says he was shocked by the announcement..
"It seems to come out of the blue, we've had no consultation at all," he said "It might have been a review but it certainly didn't involve the local people
Mr Martin says that the town has already had some experience in what was to come.
"In the past we've been a one man station and so we've had experience of dealing with Narrogin Police when our one man has been on leave or on holidays and the call out times are a disgrace," he said. "I've spoken to the St John's Ambulance people this morning to check what it's been like in the past and they've had all sorts of dramas"
Mr Martin said he's particularly concerned because the consolidation of resources would leave a large area without a police station.
"Dumbleyung are also slated to close, they're an adjoining shire to us so we have an area of Wikipen-Dumbleyung which with two adjoining shires is quite a distance," he said. "There's five hotels and five communities and so Gordon Davidson the [Dumbleyung] Shire President and I will certainly be getting together and making as much noise as we can."
He does not believe the region will be as well served under the restructure.
"We simply won't see the police in our communities as often as we do now," he said.
Nick Burgess Shire President of Cranbrook was incensed at the way the Shire was informed of the changes.
"We were informed by letter on Wednesday that Dumbleyung, Ongerup, Wikipin and Cranbrook would be closed over a period of three years," he said. "We then find out yesterday through our local police that it's going to be three weeks and I find that very underhanded."
Nick Burgess will be attending the meeting today, as will a member of the Gnowangerup Shire Council, which takes in Ongerup.
Gnowangerup Shire Council President Jan Savage was due to fly to Newcastle for a road safety conference on Saturday. She says she was now having second thoughts as to whether she should go or stay to attend the meeting of affected Shires. She said her Deputy President would go to the meeting if she was not able to attend.
Shire President of Tambellup Barry Webster says he supports the towns in fighting the restructure, even though his shire is to benefit from the changes.
"It not only affects the towns that are losing their police officers," said Mr Webster.
He says that although he had not yet spoken to other Tambellup councillors on the matter he'd "be extremely surprised if they didn't lend their support" to the campaign against the moves.
The Morning Show was unable to obtain an interview with a Police representative on Friday, however it is expected that a spokesperson from the department will come on today's program.