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Chief to take legal action over thwarted empty station sale plans


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'Incomprehensible decision' strips away additional frontline police funding.

CC Mike Barton

CC Mike Barton

 

A police chief is planning to take legal action after his plans to sell off disused property fell-through due to “short-sighted nimbyism”.

Durham Constabulary wants to sell Bede Kirk station and the surronding land for redevelopment to then plough the money back into frontline policing.

However, on Friday members of Durham County Council’s highways committee overturned the recommendation of council officers and voted to designate the grounds as a village green.

The decision effectively blocks any development of the site and leaves the police paying for the upkeep of the vacant building.

Chief Constable Mike Barton and Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg plan to fight the decision and will seek legal advice.

CC Barton said: “To say I am dischuffed on behalf of people who need policing in Barnard Castle and rural parts of County Durham really is an understatement.

“It is clear to me that to continue policing Barnard Castle and its many surrounding villages, I need the six-figure sum which the sale of this land would bring in to the public purse.

“Whitehall has stripped us of money since 2010 and it is a bit rich that a local issue has now done the same.

“This is a classic case of short-sighted nimbyism and an incomprehensible decision, which we will be challenging.”

For land to be considered a village green, it must be proven the site has been used for leisure for at least 20 years. But Mr Hogg argues the Bede Kirk site did not fully meet these requirements.

“I am disappointed in the outcome of this hearing. I have a duty to make best use of the assets available to me.

“I am taking legal advice on the next steps and strongly considering a legal challenge."

Mr Hogg believes the setback will cost the better part of one third of this year’s increase in precept.

In February, the precept was increased by just over seven per cent, raising a further £31.5million and bringing the total budget to £116million.

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