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POLICE stations in Chard, Ilminster and Crewkerne are set to close and move elsewhere over the next four years, Avon and Somerset have revealed.

A statement released this week said Ilminster Police Station, off The Butts, will close in Autumn next year and a new station opened jointly with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

In Chard, the police station, off Millfield, will close and move to a smaller base in 2016/17 and a spokesman for the force say the team will remain in the current building until another location is opened.

Crewkerne Police Station, off South Street, will close in 2017/18 and another base for its officers will open nearby.

It has not yet been announced where the new stations will be located.

Ilminster Mayor Emma Jane Taylor said: “I understand the need for rationalisation which includes closing some police stations. However, my understanding is that there will still be a police presence in Ilminster and that is most welcome.”

In 2009, Chard Police Station was closed for seven months as part of a revamp to build its own custody suite to stop officers transporting criminals to Yeovil.

Chard Mayor Jenny Kenton said: “I would like to hope they are going to keep a presence in the town and not lose any of the police officers.

“If they move to the centre of the town, it is a shame that they have wasted the money on building the cell in the current building.”

In March, plenty of people aired their thoughts on the News website over a potential closure, saying the move would leave the area unprotected and like “a criminals’ charter”.

Police say the closure is part of a plan to move buildings and officers closer to local people.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I do not want residents to feel that the police are withdrawing from their area or street, far from it.

"Our plans are about reducing the amount of oversized and under-utilised buildings we own and providing the best possible access for our communities.

“In the traditional sense police stations as you know them now, will change. Soon you are much more likely to see your local police team located with other ‘blue light’ services such as fire and ambulance or with your local council.

"This means that the police will be where you need them most, in the heart of your community.

“This is an exciting time for local policing and reinforces our commitment to serving our communities while being more efficient and cost effective with our buildings.”

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