A group of Whittlesea residents is calling on the state government to fund a refurbishment of the Whittlesea police station in next year’s budget.
The Save our Staff action group – formed last month amid concerns about the future of the station once Mernda police station opens later this year – wants the government to commit to bringing the station “into the 21st century”.
In a letter to Yan Yean MP Danielle Green, which has been seen by Star Weekly, the group said the township deserved better.
“Our local police members deserve to turn up to work in decent conditions and it works two-fold in reassuring the local residents that their policing needs are not going to be overlooked in the near future,” the letter stated.
“A commitment to refurbishing the station is seen by the residents as a commitment to keeping a police station in the town for many years to come.”
The group also started a petition demanding that the government ensure there are no staff cuts at the station.
A public meeting last month, which was attended by more than 400 residents, was told that two of the four vacancies at the station would be filled immediately. However, the group says that has not happened.
“The residents of Whittlesea are not willing, nor should they be expected, to accept a lower level of policing from their station,” the letter stated.
Northern Victoria Liberal MP Wendy Lovell has backed the group and recently presented the petition, signed by 855 residents, to Parliament.
She said local police were being forced to work in “disgraceful and unsafe” conditions.
“Apart from being painted and security fencing installed, the station has received little refurbishment work since it was constructed in the early 1960s,” Ms Lovell said.
“More concerning, the station is riddled with asbestos, forcing the station commander to implement a management plan to protect his staff and the public.
“The community are also angry at the terrible conditions their police are forced to work in.”
Police Minister Lisa Neville said Ms Green had made her aware of the need for the upgrade.
“We are working with police on key priorities for capital upgrades and we are speaking with them about the needs of the Whittlesea community,” she said.