Following on from my post about the celebration for its centenary, it is with some dismay that I advise you of the closure of Leigh-on-Sea Police Station.
A year or so ago, I nearly got run over by a bad tempered and impatient driver who didn’t understand that I cannot move off the crossing if there are children approaching it. I cannot guarantee that moving children will respond to my commands to stop and not run out into the road in front of the traffic at the same time as I am trying to exit the crossing.
It’s a judgement call as to how close those children are to the crossing and whether I can make it onto the pavement to restrain them faster than they can cover the distance to the entry to the crossing. There’s also a certain amount of on-site knowledge about the way those children behave around the crossing. I have some idea of which children are runners and which are more likely to wait to hold onto a parental hand… but kids are unpredictable so I have to allow a certain amount of room for error.
This means that sometimes drivers have to be held stationary for a bit longer.
So, rather than waiting an additional 20 seconds, he just accelerated through the zebra crossing and away down the road leaving me shaken, still standing in the middle of the road.
Reporting the incident at Leigh Police Station, the officers were very concerned. They take it very seriously because (my understanding is) that it is an offence to drive through the crossing whilst people are in the road… apart from being downright dangerous to the safety of parents and children trying to get to school.
There was a similar incident yesterday and, again, one of the parents took his number. So, armed with my evidence, I set off to the Police Station at the end of Pall Mall to report the incident.
Arriving outside the building, I saw the notice on the door but didn’t really register it until I tried to pull the door open.
The police station was well and truly shut. And the notice advised that this was permanent. There would be no front office service from now on and we were advised to use the yellow telephone on the wall nearby to contact Rayleigh or Southend. If it was an emergency, we could also call 999 or the new 101 non-emergency phone line.
Mentioning this news to other residents of the town, it became clear that not many people were aware of what had happened and most were shocked and angry that Leigh-on-Sea no longer has an active police station.
Researching further, I found this letter from Leigh Town Council to the Chief Constable of Essex dated 2 November 2011.
I have been asked by members of the Town Council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee to write to you to express our serious concerns about the future of the Leigh-on-Sea Police Station.
Having first heard that the front desk may be closing, we now understand that the police station itself is being considered for closure.
We believe that the presence of an operating police station in the centre of our town is essential for the well-being and security of our residents, particularly of our many elderly residents; many residents have approached their local councillors and come into our offices to express this view.
The station and the officers who man it have become an integral part of our community and a special relationship, mutually beneficial to all concerned, has built up over the years. Local people are much more likely to raise issues with, and pass information on to officers with whom they are familiar, especially if to do so does not also require a journey to the police station along Victoria Avenue in Southend.
Being based in the heart of our community, we are assured that the presence of our local station provides for botha prompt and effective response to incidents arising in our area. Located as Leigh is on the western bondary of the Borough of Southend, we fear that the closure of our police station will have a detrimental impact on this responsiveness, especially at nighttime.
We ask you therefore to take into consideration our concerns when deciding the future of Leigh Police Station.
I think it is a very sad state of affairs that Leigh-on-Sea no longer allows its residents to communicate directly with their own police force but the idea that we no longer even have a Police Station in such a busy town with a very active nightlife seems completely incomprehensible.
And I can only assume that the whole establishment has now gone since I saw no police cars in the spaces outside – as would normally have been the case.
Does anyone know if this is actually now the case?
UPDATE: I am told that the police station is in use night and day but is just not open to the public.