‘Double blow’ as rural police stations face axe

Elizabeth Veitch signs the petitiion in the Whispers bar, Tranent. Picture: Jane Barlow
Elizabeth Veitch signs the petitiion in the Whispers bar, Tranent. Picture: Jane Barlow
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COMMUNITY justice will be dealt a “double blow” if rural police counters are closed alongside local courts.

Tranent Police Station is set to shut to the public while Musselburgh and Haddington face reduced opening hours under the controversial plans being tabled by single force chiefs.

Worried locals say the move would be “a disaster” – especially at a time when Haddington Sheriff Court is set to go.

Colin Martin, chairman of Tranent and Elphinstone Community Council, said he feared officers would be taken away from the streets of East Lothian to fulfil their duties in court in Edinburgh.

He fears plans to shut the High Street station counter in Tranent, currently open from 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, will see even fewer bobbies on the beat.

He said: “It’s all coming one after the other at the moment. It’s a domino effect and adds to the uncertainty.

“I know they are saying there’s going to be other places open but having the station open here is important to the people of Tranent. Musselburgh and Haddington being open doesn’t really help the people here.

“Over the last ten to 15 years Tranent has grown considerably in size with all the new developments. With the growth of the town, there is more worry about crime. I think it is really sad that a station in a place like Tranent is to get closed.”

The community council will hold its next meeting on Tuesday and the closure of its police station is top of the agenda.

Marion Anderson, 39, of Ferguson’s Pet Supplies, said she expected most people to be against the proposals.

She said: “It is one of the first places people go to see if something has been handed in, whether it’s a pet or a wallet. I am definitely supporting the campaign.”

The cuts are planned across the Lothians, despite figures showing more than 100,000 people a year use the stations that are due to have their public counters axed.

The Evening News’ campaign is being backed by Iain Gray MSP, who described the closure of the public counters as: “another blow for public services in East Lothian”.

He said: “It is clear that people are concerned about the impact of closing Tranent police station to the public. I also fear that this is just the thin end of the wedge and that if the station is closed to the public the next step will be to reduce other aspects of local policing.

“I am calling on Police Scotland and the SNP Scottish Government, which is ultimately responsible for decisions on policing, to listen to local 
people’s concerns and rethink their proposals.”

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Frank Boyle cartoon: the effect of police station closures

How you can help

Back the campaign by displaying a poster and signing the petition, which is already available to sign at several locations including:

• The Mill at St Joseph’s, the cafe beside Balerno Parish Church;

• Balerno Garage Ltd, Deanpark Brae;

• Sideburns Barber Shop, Oxgangs Broadway, Oxgangs;

• Craigmillar Post Office, Niddrie Mains Road.

To receive a petition and poster e-mail kate.pickles@jpress.co.uk or call 0131-620 8733, or call into the offices at 108 Holyrood Road.

You can also download a poster by clicking here

Email the following to SoS@edinburghnews.com along with your name and address

“Dear Sir Stephen House,

I want my local police station to stay open to the public. Please think again.”