Howdenhall fears over police counter cuts

Giancarlo Crolla of Fryer's Delight in Gracemount Drive is backing the News campaign. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

Giancarlo Crolla of Fryer's Delight in Gracemount Drive is backing the News campaign. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

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ANGUISHED residents worry anti-social behaviour could rise if cuts to police counter hours go-ahead in Howdenhall.

The station is currently one of the most accessible to the public, open from 7am until midnight seven days a week, and is visited by an average of 50 people every day.

But there are fears these numbers will fall dramatically if it becomes one of three to have its public opening hours slashed under plans by single force chiefs.

Heather Philips, treasurer of the Gracemount Action Residents Association, said the proposed cuts were “ridiculous”.

She said: “I don’t think we should be making police a 9am to 5pm service, that’s not how it should work.

“I realise that everything is getting cut but to cut the police service really isn’t on. It’s not just about violent crimes, people need access to speak to police for many reasons.

“I remember when my daughter and I wanted to report a drunk driver we’d seen but both stations were closed. I can still remember how angry that made us.”

Under the proposals, the popular station will have its hours reduced to 8am-6pm, while city stations in Craigmillar, Corstorphine, Oxgangs, Balerno and South Queensferry will close completely. Craigmillar and Corstorphine will deliver a service via local community hubs. Opening hours are also set to be cut at Portobello and West End.

Support is growing for the Evening News Save Our Stations campaign, calling for a rethink on proposals to shut front desks at five police stations used by more than 73,000 people a year and cut opening hours at a further three.

Giancarlo Crolla, of Fryer’s Delight takeaway on Gracemount Drive, said: “My father bought the shop 20 years ago and it was quite a rough area then. Things have changed, which is great. I think here needs a police station that is open a lot.”

Norma Austin Hart, councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton, said she was meeting with police to discuss local concerns.

She said: “The perception that the service is being reduced is a concern and it is my concern, too. People rely on the police and need to know they are available to respond to antisocial behaviour in particular.”

Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South, said “in an ideal world” the station would keep its present hours.

He said: “The biggest concern in the Howdenhall area is the precedent that it sets – nobody can say with any real confidence that this will be the end.”

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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.”