Save Acocks Green Police Station!

March 2nd, 2018

Acocks Green Police Station by Mike Byrne

Stop Press: It seems that there is now to be NO public meeting, and no formal consultation process.  Emails commenting may be sent to [email protected] 

A new report to be presented 20.3.2018 at the West Midlands Police Commission Board meeting to discuss the fate of the police stations notes that Acocks Green and Quinton Police Stations have received the most objections in Birmingham to closure.  However, the report still  calls for closing the Police Station in 2020   See:  Item-7a-SPCB-20-Mar-18-WMP-Estates-Update  If you would like to take part in a photo shoot 11.30 am Tuesday 20th March to support a press release protesting this, then please join us on the pavement outside the Police Station at 21 Yardley Road, B27 6EF.  (Opposite Acocks Green Railway Station and on the 11 bus route.)

Under a new plan put forward by West Midlands Police and Crime commissioner Acocks Green Police Station is under threat of closure in order to save money spent on police in the West Midlands.  Local groups in Acocks Green are very concerned about this, for two reasons.  Firstly, we would lose a vital local facility.   Secondly this is an absolutely irreplaceable building of considerable historic and architectural significance.  The savings to policing in the West Midlands would be minor (1.3% of the total budget savings.)

We have heard some people suggest that it does not matter if the police station is closed because (since 2015) the front desk is closed.  It is however very important to understand that this facility, whilst we are sad about its loss, was only a very minor part of what is still provided in this building.  Below we set out firstly why we still need to keep the building functioning in the Acocks Green community as a police station, and the vital role it still plays which would be diminished if these facilities were to be transferred elsewhere.  Secondly, we explain the historic and architectural significance of this building, which could be demolished if sold, or otherwise remaining key features inside could be destroyed, and when these are gone, they are gone.

Please watch out for a public consultation coming soon.  There is likely to be a meeting, letters will be invited and you will have a chance to comment.

Why the Building Needs to Remain Open as a Police Station

And before we say anything else we kick off with a comment from a former Birmingham police sergeant on Acocks Green Police Station:

Austerity won’t last forever and crime and demand on police is increasing. (Police have always been seen as a 24 hour social service and with cuts to other services such as mental health, NHS etc that demand has increased) So at some stage in the future the force will be recruiting again – so where will they put these extra people? Selling off owned buildings for such a poor gain seems very shortsighted. 

The paragraphs referred to below are from the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Report which you will find by clicking the link.

1) The revenue cost saving from closing Acocks Green Police Station (AGPS) is only £64,986 pa, just 1.3% of the total saving (para 33)

2) Para 19 says “In the current solution those NPTs (Neighbourhood Policing Teams) are (in the main) the sole occupiers in large mainly unutilised, poor condition WMP buildings with no other corporate functions.” This is not the case at AGPS, which we have been told is fully utilised and is the home for two NPTs (Acocks Green and South Yardley).

3) The nearest retained police station in the policy would be Stechford. Even if there is space at Stechford for both NPTs based at AGPS, their daily travel of a significant distance on busy roads to their beats would involve significant extra cost and loss of time. The Gospel Estate, which has high demand on Police time, is the furthest from Stechford. The Gospel Oak is 4.5 miles from Stechford and 20 minutes by car in reasonable traffic.

4) Alternative bases in Acocks Green and South Yardley are very thin on the ground and would involve significant cost.

5) The important architectural features of AGPS (See below for more information) mean any new owner would face costs to retain – or massive local opposition to their destruction. This will have an impact on the sale value of the site.

6) AGPS acts as an important meeting point for projects and groups of value to WMP (In late February it was used for a meeting about the Gospel Estate Youth Project, for example.)

The cumulative impact of these points is, that however it is delivered, the net cost saving of closing AGPS are minimal, while the disruption to the NPTs and loss to the community is significant. We do not therefore believe it delivers value for money.

Moreover, what kind of message does closing police stations send out?  The police are no longer visible in our community.   They are not looking after us, but giving up?   Crime is not being fought – great if you are thinking of breaking the law … and finally on this subject?   Liked the front desk at the Acocks Green Cop Shop?  If the building is closed and sold off it can NEVER be reopened.  Otherwise, that is something that maybe one day we could have back?

Architectural Significance of Acocks Green Police Station

This locally listed, unique red terracotta brick building, with its unusual octagonal turret,  was built in 1909 for Yardley Rural District Council and incorporated a courthouse which is still intact inside the building today.  The original police cells are still in the basement of the building as well.  The building was designed by A. B. Rowe, Worcestershire County Surveyor and Architect. He also designed Acocks Green Junior School. Together these two buildings now form a key part of Acocks Green history.

The sumptuous nature of the external features of the building is thought to reflect the fact that Worcestershire County council was then trying to woe Acocks Green to remain a part of Worcestershire: hence the Worcester three pears emblem  over the front entrance of the building. Sadly, but perhaps inevitably, Acocks Green chose to be become part of the City of Birmingham two years later, in 1911.

Julie Taylor, then Birmingham Principal Conservation Officer commented on the ‘theatre’ of the layout of the building during a community visit in 2013. Those accused of crimes would be brought in externally from the side entrance, or from the cells to be tried by the magistrates who would arrive at the back of the building and enter by their own special entrance and staircase:

Magistrate’s entrance to the Courtroom (Acocks Green Police Station)

 

They would appear in the main Courtroom through a very grand entrance, pictured below and still fully intact.

Door through which the magistrates would appear in the court room.

If people waiting to see them were in custody they would be brought up from the cells in the basement, which are still there.  Note the stark contrast between the doors of these, and the magistrate’s grand door.  The effect would have been intended to be humbling.

Police cells, Acocks Green Police Station

You will find more pictures of Acocks Green Police Station here This includes some tantalizing glimpses of what still exists behind modern false ceilings.

 

2 Responses to “Save Acocks Green Police Station!”

  1. Diana Scrimgeour says:

    Acocks Green police station is a necessary part of this community. It proudly stands for the rule of law. My husband was based here and Dave Cross who went on to run the police museum. Stories were told of parents taken naughty kids to spend a short while in the cells as a deterrent! oh the good old days.
    Could it not serve other functions to keep it running? Guided tours would raise awareness and be really interesting. Meeting rooms? It really must not be lost to our community for its history and architectural importance.
    I am appalled it is not up for discussion. Is it listed? that might make a difference to its attractiveness to a developer.

    • Julia says:

      Thanks Diane. Really interesting info, and the Police Station has often hosted meetings already. It is locally listed Grade B – not enough to protect against demolition, unfortunately.

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