LETTERS: Time to rethink single Scottish police force

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People in Edinburgh who follow the news, attend their Community Council meetings or who have spoken to a police officer will not be surprised to learn that Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, has the nation’s highest crime rate – 53% above the national average (News, October 21).

The HMICS report comes within the context of year-on-year cuts to Police Scotland’s budget, £64million this year alone, which have resulted in the loss of around 800 police staff. The only way Sir Stephen House, the outgoing Chief Constable, could deliver the further cuts asked by the SNP Government is via what he termed “extreme measures”.

To maintain police numbers and balance the budget, Police Scotland must cut administrative posts and have police officers take on more paperwork. The impact of this has not been trivial. In Edinburgh, station closures and the abandonment of anti-burglary teams has coincided with a massive spike in house break-ins.

My nearest police station (Oxgangs) has been replaced with a weekly one- hour session in a local library – this serves tens of thousands of people in Colinton, Bonaly, Oxgangs, Firrhill, Swanston, Buckstone, Fairmilehead and a substantial part of the Pentland Hills Regional Park.

Responding to public concern, both Ian Murray MP and Kezia Dugdale MSP have made repeated calls for a return to locally accountable policing in Edinburgh. Indeed, HMICS recognise that a return to local policing is the solution, as they have asked Police Scotland to ensure there are “sufficient officers and community policing roles” across Edinburgh.

I hope the report will put real pressure on the SNP Government to review the organisation and funding of policing in Scotland. Their aim must be to return to locally accountable policing and to begin the work of rebuilding morale in the force and increasing public confidence.

Dr Scott Arthur, Buckstone Gardens, Edinburgh

No Scots steel firms tendered for bridge

Thomas McCafferty (Letters, October 20) and Jim Taylor (Letters, October 21) completely misrepresent the position over the supply of steel for the new Forth Crossing.

No Scottish company put in any steel fabrication bids for the £790 million Queensferry Crossing. Tata Steel’s plant at Motherwell makes steel plate but is not a steel fabricator and this activity ended in Scotland with the closure in 1992 by Westminster of Ravenscraig, which was then the largest hot strip steel mill in Western Europe.

However, a Scottish-based firm, Morrison Construction is one of the four consortium members tasked with building the new bridge and around three quarters of the total construction sub-contracts awarded on the Principal Contract have gone to Scottish companies.

The Lanarkshire trade unions that encouraged a No vote ‘to save jobs’ during the referendum campaign should now apologise for misleading steel workers, as it was successive UK governments’ policy to ignore manufacturing industries rather than following the German model to encourage small to medium sized manufacturing enterprises, as advocated by Business For Scotland and others on the Yes side.

As for the £400 million underspend referred to by Mr Taylor, this represents a mere 0.012% of the Scottish government’s fixed annual budget, which has fallen by 10% in real terms over the past eight years, and they must include some contingency factor as it cannot borrow any money if there is a shortfall.

If Westminster had been as prudent with taxpayer’s money, then we would not be facing the current austerity measures.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

Double standards over supermarket plans

With reference to your article ‘Call to reject supermarket over pollution fears’ (News, October 14), on the application for Waitrose on St John’s Road, one of the reasons given for refusal was the demand for excessive parking for the supermarket, which would cause more congestion in an already congested area with good public transport links.

Yet an application for car parking for an Aldi in Portobello High Street, for which the operator is demanding double the number of spaces allowed by the council’s parking standards, is recommended for approval.

Similar conditions exist here in Portobello as in Corstorphine: the high street is extremely congested and this application, if granted, will only increase congestion and air pollution.

It has been acknowledged by the council’s transport department that, once the development of housing and supermarket on this site is complete, the nearby Seafield junction will be beyond saturation point.

How can the council’s planning department justify the application of double standards in this way?

Diana Cairns, West Brighton Crescent, Edinburgh

Be careful what you tell the city council

The Information Commissioner’s Office was wholly justified in roundly criticising Edinburgh City Council over its woefully insecure handling of residents’ personal information (‘Information policy slated’, News, October 21).

To have allowed 13,000 email addresses to be stolen by hackers represents incompetence of the highest order.

So perhaps it would be prudent for the council to halt its voracious hoovering up of residents’ personal information until it has mastered the most basic data security procedures.

And an obvious key procedure would be to reduce the amount of data it collects to the minimum, as recommended by the Scottish Government.

In the meantime, residents would be wise to avoid handing over their personal information to the council unless it is absolutely necessary.

Dr John Welford, Canonmills, Edinburgh