CHESHIRE'S police chief insists the Winsford HQ is not facing the axe.
Last week, we revealed fears the £40m centre could be 'downgraded' or closed altogether if controversial plans to merge Cheshire Constabulary and Merseyside Police go ahead.
Cheshire Police Authority chairman Peter Nurse said the Winsford operation was facing 'a period of significant uncertainty', adding that job losses couldn't be ruled out.
But Chief Constable Peter Fahy says the HQ is here to stay - even if the merger takes place.
He said: 'There can be no absolute certainty but there are very strong financial and operational reasons why Winsford would continue for many years as the home for the range of policing services, whether or not it is the official headquarters of a new combined force.
'The Government has put very significant investment into the building and I know that senior management in both forces regard it as an excellent facility.
'There are good reasons why many existing services need to stay local to Cheshire and, as an example of the confidence in the future of the Winsford site, Cheshire Police Authority has set aside funding to invest in new facilities here.'
Eddisbury's Tory MP Stephen O'Brien said: 'I've raised the issue of the future of the Winsford headquarters and I haven't received any satisfactory assurance. I was told that Winsford could still be used as a sub-regional HQ, but surely that means doubling up?
'Winsford could be downgraded in terms of its importance and it calls into question the financing assumptions behind it all. It's potentially a blow for Winsford but it's up to the police to assure us there would be no re-direction of jobs, and generally what the consequences of an amalgamation would be.'
Mr Fahy added: 'While any new force could be in existence from April next year it will take a great deal longer for any significant changes to be put in place.'