The announcement by Sussex Police that 18 stations, including Newhaven and Peacehaven, are set to close has come as a shock.
The decision was signed off by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, on Monday.
But it takes a thorough search of the Force’s website to discover full details about the strategy.
It’s planned to replace stand-alone stations with front desks or offices inside public or commercial buildings such as town or village halls, stores, supermarkets or libraries.
But town and parish councillors and residents were in a state of shock after hearing the news via local radio or television. Several councils told the Express this was the first they had heard of the plan.
In Newhaven, Cllr Paul Boswell said: “I think this is dreadful for the town. We’ve had a part-time station in Newhaven for some time now.
“People will feel less secure. Whether this will translate into more crime on the streets, only time will tell. But I’m sorry, people will feel much more vulnerable.
“In the meantime the Town Council is looking into the possibility of using the building for something else.”
In Peacehaven, newly-elected UKIP county councillor and town councillor Ian Buchanan said: “Sadly we are constrained on budgetary matters.”
His political colleague Cllr Phil Howson, county councillor for Peacehaven and Telscombe is not happy.
He said: “Several people have reported this to me.
“The police station is a focal point for our community.
“We do not feel frontline policing should be cut under any circumstances.
“My son is a policeman so I know a little about the workload. I am totally against it.
“In some areas, a local station might not be needed but statistics prove we have one of the highest percentages of people over 65 in the UK and these people need reassurance and peace of mind. I
“f they go out at night, they might fear getting mugged, then where do they go to report crime?
“Fire or ambulance crews can on average get here in eight to ten minutes but how long will it take for police to arrive? I say ‘whoa’ - let’s cut bureaucracy instead.”
Chief Constable Martin Richards said he does not rule out creating stations in supermarkets and cinemas.
He said: “Increasingly people want to report crime and access other services online, which they can now do on our website, but we know this won’t work for everyone.
“Many people are attached to our traditional police stations, but they’re often not convenient for people to get to.”
Katy Bourne would prefer to partner libraries and local authorities and suggests sharing stations with neighbouring forces.
She added: “Crime doesn’t consider borders and we could share provisions in the future. In the 21st century people access police services in different ways so we are looking to reduce the number of out-dated and expensive police stations.”