Police station in ‘dire, deteriorating state’, mayors tell minister

Police Minister Mark Mitchell
Police Minister Mark Mitchell
The West Coast mayors and leaders say the Greymouth Police Station is in a dire condition, forcing some staff to work from home last year and others from the "booze bus".

They have written to the Police Minister Mark Mitchell to point out that discussions around a new station have been going on for 30-plus years. It had now reached a "dire, deteriorating state".

"The police station must be regularly thermal-fogged and air-tested for staff to work in the building and if this treatment is delayed for any reason, black mould spawns quickly. At the end of 2023, 55 staff had to either work from home or were based out on the footpath working out of the booze bus," the mayors said.

"This is completely absurd to see and quite disturbing for the community, who access the police with often private matters."

Police must often wear masks to protect their health and in addition to this, parts of the building are closed.

They said toxic mould could cause serious health issues and affect the wellbeing of those required to work in such conditions.

"Expecting people to work in these conditions on a daily basis is a great concern."

They said a new roof was being planned but the age of the Guinness St building, which dates to 1948, water damage, saturation of the walls, holes that had opened up and general building condition as well as the monthly thermal-fogging, suggested a "Band-Aid approach" was a waste of money.

The Greymouth Police Station was the main station on the West Coast and serviced the courthouse for the entire region.

If there was a major event, such as the predicted Alpine Fault earthquake or another significant civil defence emergency, it would be a critical base.

The mayors acknowledged the new government was heavily financially constrained.

"This will be one of many issues coming to light that has been neglected over many years, but if you could please investigate a solution for this most important and concerning issue in our district that would be very much appreciated."

They had discussed the matter with Regional Development Minister Shane Jones and West Coast-Tasman MP Maureen Pugh.

The mayors have also written to Tertiary Education Minister Penny Simmonds about the future of Tai Poutini Polytechnic.

The government is now disestablishing the mega polytechnic Te Pūkenga set up by the previous Labour government.

"As you work through this process, we ask you to consider the uniqueness and special character of the West Coast. We acknowledge regional institutions, such as Tai Poutini Polytechnic, at times deliver courses that may have lower learner numbers."

While these may come at a higher cost, they were deemed essential for the local economy and regional economic development.

With the recent cessation of the West Coast regional skills leadership group, it was essential there was local community input into any decisions made regarding the future of vocational education on the West Coast.

The mayors asked to be included in any stakeholder engagement during the review. — Greymouth Star