CONCERNS over the police presence in Chard and Ilminster were raised at town council meetings this week.

In Chard, residents aired worries about a reduction in the number of PCSOs from six to three and the closure of the station, which underwent a £400,000 revamp in 2009.

Ilminster Police Station, off The Butts, will close next autumn and PC Andy Stuart told a meeting it is hoped the new base will be at the back of the fire station, in Blackdown View.

He said: “If that were to fail, then I have been assured we will still be based in the town.”

The move is part of an Avon and Somerset Police restructure which starts on July 28.

Chard Police Station will close and move elsewhere in the town in 2016/17 and Crewkerne Police Station will shut in 2017/18 and move to another base.

The News understands a new South-East Custody Centre, slightly smaller than the three police centres built in Patchway, Bridgwater and Keynsham, will be built near Yeovil.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “The plans are for a centralised custody suite. This will replace the current custody provision at Yeovil Police Station.

“There will be 12 cells at the new centre, replacing the 11 at Yeovil, and is being designed with the potential to expand to 24 cells should it be required at a later date. There are no plans for any further police station closures related to the opening of the custody centre.”

Sergeant Rob Jameson said if the South-East Custody Centre was built, he believes it would be closer to the Chard, Ilminster and Crewkerne area than the custody suites in Yeovil are at the moment, so that a new centre would be an improvement.

He added: “A lot more non-violent criminals, such as shoplifters and possession of drugs, are dealt with now without arrest, so do not have to go to a custody unit.”