CONTROVERSIAL plans to close public counters at two busy city police stations have finally been abandoned.
Police chiefs said they now believed it was more efficient to keep the counter services at Craigmillar and Corstorphine stations rather than transfer them to nearby neighbourhood hubs, as planned under a cost-cutting shake-up last year.
Police Scotland originally proposed shutting ten police stations across Lothian to the public as part of nationwide cuts in counter opening hours.
But an Evening News campaign succeeded in reversing the proposed counter closures at South Queensferry, Linlithgow and Tranent – the only ones in mainland Scotland to be saved.
The force said at the time it would go ahead with the other seven counter closures it had proposed in Lothian, including Craigmillar and Corstorphine.
Craigmillar police station was due to have its services transferred to the South East Neighbourhood Hub, while the counter at Corstorphine would move to the West Neighbourhood Hub at Drum Brae.
But today Superintendent Gary Ritchie, who oversees service development in Edinburgh, said the two stations still had counter services and there were no plans to change that.
He said changes were about to take place in the way the city council delivered its services. “We have determined it would not be the right time to start making changes to the location of police services when there is going to be major change.
“Looking at it, we just didn’t think it was going to be a viable option at the moment,
“We think it is most efficient to keep the service where it is.”
Mike Crockart, ex-policeman and former Lib Dem MP for Edinburgh West, who campaigned to keep the counters open, welcomed the police U-turn and said the plans had never been properly thought through.
He said: “Once they looked into the costs I suspect they came up with a ridiculously large number which made them realise it was a stupid idea.
“They would have had to put in some sort of screen in case things kicked off.
“The idea that a part-time open area in a library could cope with everything that happens in a typical police station was a nonsense from the start.”
But he said he hoped there would be no reduction in opening hours at the counters.
The original plan to transfer police service from the stations to the neighbourhood hubs was described at the time as putting officers at the heart of the community.
But members of the public unhappy at the idea raised the prospect of people being dragged in handcuffs past children choosing their library books.
The police’s own figures suggested Craigmillar was one of the busiest station counters, used by 1200 people every fortnight.
Lothian Tory MSP Gavin Brown also said he welcomed the belated change of heart from the police.
He said: “Communities across Edinburgh campaigned hard against these ill-thought out proposed closures and the Evening News led from the front.
“I never met any constituent who was in favour of the closures and it is very good news if they have now been shelved.”
Mike Bridgman, SNP councillor for Craigmillar and convener of the council’s police and fire scrutiny committee, said: “I welcome the fact reviews have been carried out and it has been found these counters should be retained.”
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