12:50pm Wednesday 29th January 2014
PONTYPOOL police station is one of seven across Gwent which will re-open during the week while Cwmbran station is to get a 21st century facelift.
Pontypool will see front counter services brought back from9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, along with counterparts in Maindee in Newport, Caerphilly, Ystrad Mynach, Risca, Chepstow and Monmouth, while Brynmawr and Abertillery will re-open for two to three days per week each, sharing resources.
Gwent's police and crime commissioner Ian Johnston made the announcement at a meeting of the police and crime panel last week. A document containing details of all the plans has not yet been released but is due to be published online.
The decision by the commissioner follows extensive public consultation, spurred on by "the public's disquiet about police stations closing" in 2012.
In April 2012 the then chief constable of Gwent Police, Carmel Napier said she would press ahead with the force's programme to close front counters in 17 stations despite a backlash from politicians.
In November, Mr Johnston said he was considering fully re-opening some of those stations, after he admitted police had “got it badly wrong” over the closure of Caerphilly police station’s front desk.
Speaking at the meeting at Monmouthshire council's headquarters in Usk, Mr Johnston said: "The constant message from the public was, that's what they want. The Chief [Constable Jeff Farrar] and I are at one on this, we are going to look at how we get it done in financial terms but it needs to be done.
"This will all be reviewed in 12 months," he added.
There are no new plans for New Inn while Trevethin has had a new building with an opening ceremony taking place soon.
Speaking about Garndiffaith Mr Johnston said: "The public don't want it sold so it's staying."
Usk police station Mr Johnston described as "an iconic building" and said it would remain, adding that the force would use Sessions House for meetings especially as it has good disabled access.
He said he intended to strike up a rental agreement with the town council.
UNISON branch secretary for Gwent Police, Linda Sweet said it was "really good news" and said it has become evident that the decision to close the stations was a bad one.
“A lot of my members, the station enquiry officers, were the first face that the public saw,” she said. “They were such an important cog in the wheel that has been lost. The job they still do in Newport and some other stations and their knowledge is invaluable.”
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