The NSW government says it is still committed to an upgrade to Gunnedah’s Police Station, but has yet to name a date work will start.
The government made an election promise a year ago to upgrade the station after a community push to increase police numbers in the shire.
As part of his election campaign, Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson took a petition to Parliament seeking an upgrade to the station to allow more police to be based in Gunnedah.
Deputy Premier Troy Grant, who was in Gunnedah this morning, announced in March last year Gunnedah Police Station would get a multi-million dollar refurbishment.
Mr Grant said today the government’s commitment to the upgrade remained “rock solid”.
“This is about getting it right for the long term,” he said.
“We are not rushing it just to satisfy the commitment.”
Mr Grant said initial work had been done on design work for the building, which was likely to see demolition of some of the existing building.
“The property unit is in the process of scouting out a temporary location for the police to operate from,” Mr Grant said.
“That is the first challenge.”
He said the government building across the road from the existing station had been raised as a potential interim site.
Mr Grant said once a temporary site had been established, the community would be kept informed about timeframes for the refurbished station.
Stuart Ayres, who was Police Minister at the time of the announcement last year, said once there was a “clear idea of the scope of the work, we will get out there and get it built”.
A spokesperson for Mr Grant said this week there would be more information about the station in the “near future”.
“Funding to commence works has been allocated as part of the 2015-16 Budget and work is already under way with the NSW Police Force Investment Committee approving the business case in October 2015,” the spokesperson said.
The upgrade is believed to have a price tag of about $5 million.
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said he hoped to have news about the station soon.
Gunnedah Shire Council mayor Owen Hasler said the community needed to be kept informed about the project.
“I realise government departments have a reputation for moving very slowly – even in comparison with local government – but I believe the local community, because of the importance of policing in our community, have a right to know what the concept is, and secondly, the timeline for that,” Cr Hasler said.
Mr Grant said last year the upgrade would include “fundamental changes” to the station, particularly the foyer, the prisoner loading dock area and the officers’ work areas.
The current station is 50 years old, leaks and has structural problems.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione ruled out 24-hour operation for a new station during a visit last year.