MLAs debate police 999 team relocation plan

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East Antrim MLAs have joined forces in a bid to halt the planned relocation of Larne’s emergency response policing team.

As reported in the Times, the local 999 team is to be merged with the unit from Ballymena into what police called a “single dedicated response team”.

But elected and community representatives in the borough fear the relocation will have a detrimental effect on policing in the area and lead to reduced response times.

Four of the six local Assembly members (Roy Beggs, Oliver McMullan, David Hilditch and Stewart Dickson) took part in a debate in Stormont and voiced their concerns over the issue.

Ulster Unionist Mr Beggs, who secured the debate, criticised the non-attendance of Justice Minister David Ford.

It is normal for ministers to be present to respond to issues raised in Assembly debates, but Mr Ford declined to attend, citing that the issue was an operational matter for the PSNI alone.

Mr Beggs suggested that a possible alternative to the plan would be to relocate the 999 team to Carrickfergus.

He added: “The transport connections between Ballymena and east Antrim are not good at all.

“Why can Larne and Carrickfergus response police not be located together in the east Antrim strip?”

Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan has revealed that police have acceded to his request for a meeting with all the East Antrim MLAs.

Chairman of Larne Policing and Community Safety Partnership, Cllr Mark McKinty, has also raised concerns about the planned relocation during a meeting with police in Ballymena.