Tory candidate Guy Opperman's General Election campaign post calling for new Hexham police station sparks confusion

Guy Opperman
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)


A Conservative social media campaign appearing to call for a new police station in Hexham has sparked confusion - and a political row.

Former Hexham MP Guy Opperman shared a link last Sunday that appeared to call for a new police station in the town. The post said Mr Opperman, who is the Tory candidate for the constituency at the upcoming election, was "fighting for a new police station to make our streets safer".

Hexham currently has a working police station, unlike a number of other towns in the area which saw their stations closed in the last decade. The ad saw local councillors criticise the move, arguing that the current station was fit for purpose and the money would be better spent elsewhere.

Mr Opperman has now clarified that he is campaigning to restore former opening hours at Hexham and in nearby Prudhoe. However, his comments have drawn criticism from Labour's Police and Crime Commissioner.

Independent Group County councillor for Hexham West and the town's mayor Derek Kennedy said: "I didn't want to get involved in the General Election as I don't do national politics, but this is in my ward and people are really concerned.

Hexham MP Guy Oppermans social media post appearing to call for a new police station in Hexham
Hexham MP Guy Oppermans social media post appearing to call for a new police station in Hexham -Credit:Handout

"The idea of a new police station was news to us. If I had a list of priorities in Hexham, that would probably be the last one. We all want more police officers on the beat, but a police station isn't going to do that.

"There was no detail about it or even why - we are fine with our current station. It's just a waste of money."

Following this, Mr Opperman clarified his comments.

He explained: "I want the police stations in Hexham and Prudhoe reopened and restored, after they were closed by the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner.

"Residents deserve a functioning local police station and that is why, if I am elected on July 4, I will be calling on the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner to do the right thing and reopen them.

"I have surveyed local residents and they definitely want the stations opened and more of the 704 new police officers in Tynedale."

Coun Kennedy responded: "He said he wanted to fight for a new police station. It's a shambles."

Five police stations in Tynedale were closed in 2014 as part of Government cutbacks. In 2017, the station at Prudhoe was also closed, with officers relocating to the Spetchells building.

Labour's newly elected Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Susan Dungworth, hit back at Mr Opperman's comments blaming Labour for the closure.

She said: "It’s odd that Guy is concerned about police station closures and officer numbers when it is his own party that has stripped Northumbria Police of more than 1,100 officers and more than £148m from its budget since 2010. Really his concern should be the years of austerity that have meant PCCs and cash strapped police forces have been forced to balance the books in ways that simply can’t always deliver the longer opening times and officer increases that residents want and deserve.

Susan Dungworth the new Northumbria PCC
Susan Dungworth the new Northumbria PCC -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

"He should also know neither he nor I have the powers to direct operational policing resources. Hexham already has a station and is trialling extended opening hours.

"I’ll review the usage findings with great interest and in the meantime I will do everything within my power to strengthen neighbourhood policing in Hexham and Prudhoe but it all starts with better funding for our police.”

The Home Office has pointed out that it provided a record funding of £17.2 billion for police forces across the country in 2023/24. This included £354.8 million for Northumbria Police - an increase of £12 million on the previous year.

However, Mrs Dungworth's predecessor Kim McGuinness warned in January that the force faced a £12.1 million funding shortfall, requiring the police precept on council tax to be increased to plug the gap.