MOVES to protect Worcester city centre from the brunt of policing cuts have been welcomed by Robin Walker.

The city’s MP said a force u-turn was welcome news for residents and has helped avoid “a big mistake”.

As your Worcester News revealed in today's newspaper, West Mercia Police is shaking up its structure across the force area.

Worcester’s city centre policing team will change from two sergeants and eight PCs to one sergeant, five PCs and three police community support officers (PCSOs).

Mr Walker said he was contacted by people before the announcement about concerns the city could lose its dedicated policing team.

Under the original plan, the Cathedral safer neighbourhood team would have taken over city centre policing, with support from response officers.

Mr Walker said: “I am delighted that the police have listened the concerns of residents and businesses in Worcester and have decided to keep this strong focused city centre team.

“Crime is down in Worcester and West Mercia Police are doing an excellent job in reducing both crime and the fear of crime “I welcomed the focus in the police consultation on prioritising people over buildings and making sure that their resources are firmly focused on front line policing.

“To have said this but then to have got rid of a team that was working well to bring police and community together would have been a big mistake and gone against the intention of the changes.”

He also said he was confident the outcome would work despite PCSOs appearing to be taking over roles done by PCs.

The police base at the Guildhall is also closing, with staff based from the existing HQ in Castle Street.

As your Worcester News first revealed in February, 11 police sites will close completely and another 19 will be relocated to save £1.5 million.

Buildings in Droitwich, Pershore and Tenbury are among those to close in south Worcestershire, all of which will result in alternative bases springing up in each local area.

Chief constable David Shaw said the move was a better alternative than more police officer cuts, saying “buildings provide no protection, people do”.

The overall number of 24/7 police patrol bases will reduce from 30 to 11, while the Safer Neighbourhood Teams will go from 145 to 82 under the plans.

The cuts, which will kick in from April onwards, will take place between now and 2015, as and when deals can be struck with private or public sector bodies to share new sites.

Consultations have been running with the public over it.