THE fear of car thefts and drug dealing has prompted Motorway Service Area owners to invest money in an on-site police station and specialist officer in time for its opening in 2008.

Contractors Swayfield has agreed to help fund it after a council group expressed its concerns over community safety at the site in Beaconsfield. The service area (MSA) member group meet regularly with Swayfield and have managed to put in place some conditions for them to uphold at a local level.

Speaking at a meeting last Wednesday, Chris Furness, a member of the MSA group from South Bucks District Council, said: "Our concern is that there will be an increase in crime but there will not be additional funding for policing. Swayfield have agreed to provide an office for the police and Highways agency in the building, but that won't be for your neighbourhood bobby, it will be for the traffic police.

"They are providing plenty of CCTV cameras and ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras at the entrance, which I think is valuable."

Mr Furness added that a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), specifically employed for the MSA, should also be on hand when the five acre site opens, to keep an eye on vehicle theft, car break-ins and drug dealing.

He said: "Swayfield have in principle agreed to fund half the PCSO who will be dedicated to the MSA. The funding of the other half is open to question. I think everybody is expecting Thames Valley Police ought to do that."

The PCSO on site will work longer hours to keep the site secure, and will be backed up by two security guards who will work evenings, weekends and over night.

Swayfield has also agreed to put in perimeter fencing around the whole site to keep trespassers out.

Speaking after the meeting of the South Bucks Joint Local Committee, Mr Furness added: "Unusually Swayfield's are not only the developers but they're also going to operate the MSA. That's a benefit for everybody because it means they're not just inter-ested in slapping the thing up and going.

"I think they've taken a very responsible attitude to working with us."

Despite fierce opposition from residents the MSA was given planning permission by the secretary of state last year. Swayfield announced earlier this year that work would begin at the site, just off the A355 near Burtley Wood, in April 2007.