CONTROVERSIAL plans to relocate police counter services to community hubs are in disarray after force chiefs missed their own deadline for the switch-over.
Police Scotland has admitted Craigmillar and Corstorphine police stations will remain open to the public despite front desks being slated for closure on March 3.
Police personnel should have already moved to hubs in Drumbrae and Craigmillar – which also house libraries and a string of neighbourhood services – but the planned switch has stalled amid claims no deal has yet been reached.
Today, critics condemned Police Scotland’s handling of the move which was part of sweeping cost-cutting measures to save £4.2 million across the country.
Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP and former policeman Mike Crockart branded the saga “shambolic” and said it was “clear there was never a thought-through plan”.
“If Police Scotland are now telling us that Corstorphine front counter is still open then I welcome that but have they told anyone?” he asked. “The staff at the Drumbrae hub are left high and dry, only able to tell people to phone 101. I phoned that number the week the switch was supposed to happen and was told that the new arrangements were already up and running and that the staff member was probably just ‘having their lunch’.
“This is a shambles and unfortunately seems to show the value they place on their main point of contact with the local communities they serve.”
Echoing his concerns, Edinburgh East Labour MP Sheila Gilmore said it was “astonishing” management had failed to put arrangements in place to meet their own timetable.
She said: “I’m relieved Craigmillar station is still open but I want to know when the promised move to the new East Neighbourhood Hub will take place. What I have been told is that Police Scotland has not agreed the move with council officers, and the plan is still being discussed. It’s clear Police Scotland management published a list of station closures without finalising arrangements for Craigmillar.”
She branded the stations debacle “disorganised” and said it was incumbent on police chiefs to let residents know whether the front desk at the local unit would remain open.
“My constituents and the local officers who work really hard to get the best results for Craigmillar are both being let down by this ongoing uncertainty,” she said.
The News asked Police Scotland to explain reasons behind the delay but were told they could not discuss the issue “any further”. Asked why they missed the deadline of March 3, they declined to answer.
A spokesman said: “We continue to work with our council colleagues to introduce our shared public counters as soon as possible.”
News campaign the right move
POLICE Scotland planned to close front desks at ten stations across Edinburgh and the Lothians and slash opening hours at seven more as part of its £4.2 million cost-cutting plan.
After the Evening News launched the “Save Our Stations” campaign, which won support from more than 1800 members of the public, the force agreed to keep open Linlithgow, Tranent and South Queensferry. They were the only police stations in mainland Scotland whose counters were saved, while more than 60 were shut.
Police insisted relocating the Craigmillar and Corstorphine desks to local hubs would provide a better service for the public.