PLANS by Hampshire police to close their front desks to the public and reduce the opening times of others have been branded “an absolute joke”.

The force says following a survey of how well front offices across the county were used and at what times of the day, the decision has been made to close both Totton and Ryde front offices to the public.

In a statement Hampshire police said that the closures and the changes to opening hours were designed to improve the efficiency of effectiveness of the service they provide.

But that has been met with a barrage of criticism from local councillors in Totton who say the move is a mistake.

District and town councillor Chris Lagdon said: “It is an absolute joke to say this will improve the service to the public. Do they think we are stupid?”

“I think this is absolutely atrocious. For a town the size of Totton to not have front desk that someone can actually walk in and speak to a police officer is ridiculous.”

Daily Echo: RESIGNATION: Councillor Chris Lagdon

Cllr Chris Lagdon has slammed the plans

Cllr David Harrison, who represents Totton South and Marchwood on Hampshire County Council, added: “This is certainly a negative rather than a positive and I would challenge any survey that said Totton, with a population of 33,000 did not warrant having a front desk.”

Both councillors said they had not been consulted on the closure and would be seeking to raise it with the Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes.

He was not available for comment when contacted by the Daily Echo.

In a statement Hampshire police did say that along with the changes to opening hours, the front office at Lyndhurst would be reopening for a few days a week.

A spokesman said: “There will continue to be 16 police stations offering a front office service; however the stations offering the service and the opening times may change to reflect the times that a review found they were used, or needed, most.

“The changes to the front office opening times will have no impact on the service provision by local Safer Neighbourhoods Teams (SNTs).

“SNT officers will remain based at the heart of the communities they serve and will continue to be available at beat surgeries and community meetings.”