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‘We cannot allow the closure
of any more police stations’
Once again both our Westminster and Scottish governments are causing chaos with public services locally and nationally.
This time it is Police Scotland which has come under severe financial restraint.
In order to cope with this financial minefield, the force has taken part in a money-saving exercise which includes the closing down and selling of some police stations.
In South Argyll, the Tarbert police office has been closed down, leaving officers from Lochgilphead and Campbeltown to cover south Argyll.
In Mid Argyll, Inveraray police station has been closed and sold, leaving officers form Lochgilphead and Oban to cover, as well as the officer from Dalmally – if Dalmally police station stays open.
This is totally out of order. However, at a meeting of the scrutiny committee of Argyll and Bute Council, as reported by the Argyllshire Advertiser, Chief Superintendent Grant Manders, the divisional commander, gave a glowing report saying that despite the closures of Tarbert and Inveraray police stations ‘things are better now’. He added that ‘crimes of violence are falling, while call-handling has improved’.
But when put under pressure by Councillor John McAlpine to give accurate answers, Chief Superintendent Manders replied: ‘We are like the council – we have no money. I have made some tough decisions and there are more to come.’
My question to the chief superintendent is: how important is the public’s safety to you, or is it simply the case that you are toeing the government line and saying exactly what it has told you to say and do?
But deep down the truth of the matter is the police are facing the same centralisation programme as the NHS.
The plan is to partially remove or close rural services and relocate them to a central location, be it police station or hospital, and all to save money. What do people matter?
Sadly, it is the common or garden officer who is going to take the brunt of this crazy situation. He or she cannot be everywhere at the same time.
Here in Argyll and Bute, we are at the heart of the West Highlands, where thousands of tourists traverse our countryside almost 12 months of the year, adding to pressures on our road infrastructure.
We cannot allow the closure of any police station anywhere.
I suggest the police start thinning the top-heavy staffing. I feel sure that a clean sweep of senior ranks will save countless thousands of pounds and I am confident that police stations will run perfectly well with ranks not exceeding inspector.
And my final question is to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon: why, when the police are designated as a public service (non-profit-making) are they subjected to crippling financial restraint that your government is imposing on them?
They are a 999 service required by one and all. They should not be put under financial constraints. If they need finance to operate properly, they should get it. After all, Ms Sturgeon, it is you and I who are the police are there to protect 24/7.