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Concerns at new police station plan

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: February 07, 2013

By Mike Byrne

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THE prospect of a new Exeter police station at Middlemoor has raised security concerns for nearby residents.

As revealed in last week's Echo, the multi-million-pound station and custody suite would be built from proceeds from the sale of land at police headquarters for a Morrisons supermarket.

It would replace the Heavitree Road custody suite which is more than 50 years old and no longer considered fit for its modern-day purpose.

But the plan has raised fears among residents living near the site that offenders could be released late at night.

There is also concern over the size of police presence in Exeter city centre if the Heavitree Road station closes.

Andrew Leadbetter, county councillor for St Loye's and Topsham, said he had attended a meeting of Digby Community Association where residents raised concern about the proposed new custody suite as well as access to the site off what were already busy roads.

He said: "There is some concern about people being released from the custody suite at any time of night into what is virtually the middle of nowhere.

"There is also concern about people being picked up and dropped off at all times. The roads are very busy in that area and the supermarket would generate more traffic.

"As an Exeter councillor I am also certain that we need a real police presence in the city centre. We have to have somewhere in the city where people can go to see a police officer. We have to at least have a police desk."

Devon & Cornwall Police has said it would "reflect" on feedback from its staff and the community.

Deputy chief constable David Zinzan said: "We will listen carefully through consultation and provide a sustainable service that best meets the needs of our communities."

Housing would be the city council's preferred use for any surplus land and there would be other considerations to work through such as any loss of employment land potential and any change to the playing field area.

Meanwhile Asda, the only major supermarket without a presence in the city, is looking to develop the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education campus off Topsham Road, St Leonard's. The school is planning to move to a £25m state-of-the-art building off Ringswell Avenue. It is understood the Asda agreement for the school site is subject to it receiving planning permission to build a new store.

St Leonard's city councillor Norman Shiel said: "I can say without a doubt that when this idea was first flagged up there was considerable opposition.

"There is obviously concern over increased traffic in the area but mainly people are against the whole ethos of a supermarket development."

The Exeter deaf academy chief executive Jonathan Farnhill said he could not confirm the Asda deal.

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