Ep­som police base to close doors


Ep­som will lose its com­mu­nity police hub when the lo­cal police cen­tre shuts down later this year.

Af­ter 24 years, the Ep­som Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Cen­tre will per­ma­nently close its doors in De­cem­ber when the lease for its of­fice ex­pires to make way a new de­vel­op­ment.

Health and dis­abil­ity or­gan­i­sa­tion Ran­furly Care So­ci­ety, which owns the build­ing on the cor­ner of Ran­furly and Manukau Roads, did not al­low police to re­new its lease.

Com­mu­nity vol­un­teers who worked at the cen­tre have been left scram­bling to find a tem­po­rary lo­ca­tion to work af­ter police con­firmed they will not be con­tin­u­ing their lease.

The polic­ing cen­tre was opened in 1992 and was staffed on week­days by a team of vol­un­teers.

The cen­tre faced changes in June this year af­ter new Health and Safety leg­is­la­tion meant the cen­tre couldn’t open with­out a sworn-in police of­fi­cer on site.

De­spite be­ing tem­po­rar­ily closed to the pub­lic since the health and safety re­forms, the cen­tre still man­aged to op­er­ate three times a week with the Ep­som Com­mu­nity Con­sta­ble work­ing on site.

It also be­came a base for 160 Neigh­bour­hood Watch groups in the area.

Ep­som Neigh­bour­hood Watch sec­re­tary Carolyne Jack­son says the groups are un­sure what is go­ing to hap­pen to the Ep­som base in the fu­ture.

‘‘At present we have a de­gree of un­cer­tainty about the fu­ture of the ex­is­tence of a lo­cal com­mu­nity cen­tre in Ep­som,’’ Jack­son says.

‘‘We have no word from the police at this stage as to where our fu­ture lies.’’

Jack­son says the vol­un­teers have planned to hire out a room at the Ep­som Com­mu­nity Cen­tre as a tem­po­rary of­fice un­til police ad­vise them on an al­ter­na­tive.

Mau­reen Grib­ble has vol­un­teered man­ag­ing the cen­tre since it opened and says it has be­come a face for police in the com­mu­nity.

‘‘It con­trib­utes to a sense of safety in the area and they feel like they have a di­rect line to a par­tic­u­lar face in the police.’’

The vol­un­teers also pro­duce a monthly com­mu­nity polic­ing news­let­ter since the cen­tre was opened.

The news­let­ter is dis­trib­uted to 6000 homes and lo­cal busi­ness.

Of­fi­cers at New­mar­ket Police Sta­tion have of­fered a room in the New­mar­ket head­quar­ters for vol­un­teers to keep pro­duc­ing the pub­li­ca­tion.

A tem­po­rary polic­ing cen­tre will be run out of Ep­som Com­mu­nity Cen­tre start­ing on Fe­bru­ary 1. It will be open on Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and Fri­days, be­tween 10am and 1pm, at the Camp­bell Room.

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