ELDERLY residents will be left “vulnerable and isolated” if Oxgangs police station is closed to the public, residents claim.
The public counter is open between 7am and midnight, seven days a week, but would shut altogether under controversial plans by police chiefs.
Heather Levy, chairwoman of Firhill Community Council, said the plans were “incredibly disappointing” given it was so widely used.
She said the cuts would affect pensioners who need the counters to deter criminals and report antisocial behaviour, adding: “It has a vital role in Oxgangs, especially for older people. It is terrible they are even considering closing it. They are talking about doing everything more electronically but Oxgangs and the Pentlands area has the highest concentration of people over 60 in the city. How many of them are going to be electronically savvy?
“Yes there’s other ways of getting in touch with the police but it is nice to know that the station is one of them.
“Obviously the counter will be your first port of call if you don’t want to pick up the phone and want to be relatively anonymous. It is going to be the old and vulnerable that are hit hardest and they’re the ones that need community police the most.”
Police Scotland said a total of 427 people visited the station during its 14-day survey, or just more than 11,000 people a year. But only 6 per cent of visits were classed as “core demand”.
The assessment goes against figures from 2011/12 which show overall crime rates in Oxgangs grew by 4 per cent. Vandalism and fireraising saw the biggest increases, up 28 per cent from 213 to 273.
Mehmet Imanli, 36, of Merdos fish bar, said the station was essential for public safety.
He said: “We need the counter to stay open, it is important for the safety of everybody around here. If ever we have trouble we know they are there to help us. Of course we want it to stay there.”
Linda Williams, whose shop Broadway Convenience Store was voted Community Champion of the Year, agreed the elderly would be hardest hit.
She said: “There are a lot of older people in the community here and I think, especially for them, it is good to have it here. I think it offers them a lot of reassurance knowing it is down the road.”
Five police stations are due to close public counters and three will have their opening hours slashed. Edinburgh South West Labour MP Alistair Darling said: “Having a visible police presence in Oxgangs is something people appreciate and would be very sorry to lose. Of course there are other ways of contacting the police, but having officers there and seen to be there is an important part of policing.”
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 email@example.com or call 0131-620 8733, or call into the offices at 108 Holyrood Road.
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.”