A NEW police station has been officially opened in Harrogate to serve the town centre.
The traditional 1930s police base, on North Park Road, is to close this year having been branded “Dickensian” and “crumbling”.
Instead, two new stations - at Beckwith Knowle and Craven Lodge on Victoria Avenue - are to serve the town’s population.
This week saw the first phase of the project completed with the official opening of Craven Lodge, next to the Jobcentre on Victoria Avenue.
Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell said: “We promised local people that we would retain local policing services in the town centre, and I am very pleased to say that our promise is now a reality.
“We think it’s a fantastic location. Being accessible to the people we serve is at the heart of policing and a major priority for us.”
The Craven Lodge site will now act as a base for the 35-strong town centre Safer Neighbourhood teams.
It will also be a first port of call for many members of the public.
Insp Bruce Prendergast, who will be leading the teams at the new site, said: “I am extremely pleased that we now have our very own base in the centre of town.
“It means that we are able to meet the chief’s commitment of having that town centre base, and also it means that the team are immediately deployable.
“Facilities will be dedicated to members of the public rather than the older centre which also provided bail and other custody matters.
“We will be accessible to the people we serve on a more personal level as well as being right in the heart of our local beat area.”
Harrogate Safer Neighbourhood Commander, Supt Barry Smith, said: “It represents our commitment to the town centre.
“We are opening a new police station at Beckwith Knowle but we are committed to delivering services a local level - this is part of that commitment.”
Craven Lodge will be a temporary base for the Safer Neighbourhood Team for the next three years.
In the longer term the team hopes to move back into its old site on North Park Road, sharing with Harrogate Borough Council who are looking to buy the building.
Police officers and PCSOs are to man the Craven Lodge station 24 hours a day, but initially public access is to be restricted to three days a week.
The front desk will only be open between 9am and 1pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but as services transfer from North Park Road, opening hours will extend to Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Chairman of the North Yorkshire Police Authority, Jane Kenyon, said: “We vowed that access to officers and PCSOs within the town centre would not be compromised.
“We have fulfilled that commitment with today’s opening.”
An open day is to be held at Beckwith Knowle on May 9, where members of the public will be invited to view the new police station before it becomes fully operational.