Work set to start on new Ottery police base

WORK on a new home for Ottery s police team will start next week.

WORK on a new home for Ottery's police team will start next week.

Builders will begin a bid to transform the vacant half of the town's Old Convent building, in Broad Street, into a "neighbourhood police base" on Monday.

The bid to renovate the long-empty section of the premises is expected to take around 10 weeks with residents and officers promised a "massive improvement" from the town's current Silver Street facility.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokeswoman said the new, bigger "base" will feature a front desk offering townsfolk face to face contact with offivers.

Ottery neighbourhood beat manager Phil Thomas got a sneak peak into the "nuts and bolts" of plans on Wednesday.

He told the Herald that officers hope to take up temporary residence in two vacant town council offices in the building on June 15 to prepare for their permanent move.

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He said: "It will be a real asset to the town and I'm excited by it. This will be such an improvement to our working conditions and what we can provide for the public. For example there will be a room set aside for interviews and statement taking which will be far better for dealing with sensitive issues.

"There is a lot of stripping it out work to be done as well as the creation of some new rooms.

Today (Weds) was more about the building time plan- but its all become real now, and it's very encouraging, to have had a look around our office.

"We are hoping a civilian clerk will be employed to man the front counter, they could be voluntary."

Ottery's officers and PCSO's will neighbour the town council in the Old Convent. The move will signify the completion of a remarkable turnaround for the formerly abandoned, but now town-owned premises.

Devon and Cornwall Police has rented its half of the building from the town council, which forked out nearly half a million pounds for it last year.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokeswoman said of the "neighbourhood police base": "It's not a traditional type of police station, or office. Similar initiatives have recently been rolled out in Tiverton and Bodmin. The facility will provide better accommodation for officers and will have an enquiry office, offering face to face contact."

The spokeswoman could not confirm whether a civilian clerk will be employed at the base.

- Ottery residents can get a glimpse of the on-going work taking place at the Old Convent at a specially arranged Councillor's Surgery between 9am and 11am tomorrow morning. Police officers and town officials will be on hand to answer questions.