THE city team that deals with complaints about antisocial noise at night is set to be withdrawn and calls directed to police – sparking fears over how well suffering residents will be helped in future.
Cash-strapped council bosses have proposed the move as they bid to plug a budget black hole, with the department’s entire complement of six permanent and three part-time positions facing the axe.
Around 11,000 complaints are received by the city council every year – covering issues including pounding music from pubs and clubs, noisy neighbours and car alarms – with a significant number of those believed to originate during the night.
Local police have criticised the proposed cut, warning that the quality of assistance is likely to deteriorate.
COMMENT: Make some noise to halt the axe
The plan – aimed at saving £200,000 – marks the latest phase in the downgrading of the city’s night noise team, which was a 24-7 service until 2012.
Under current arrangements, complaints are directed to Police Scotland from Monday to Wednesday.
If the service is passed to police then that should come with all the bells and whistles on to make sure they can respond effectively.Pip Wallen-Priestley
Proposals to transfer call-handling responsibility during the rest of the week come amid growing concern over stretched police resources in Edinburgh, with up to 55 officers a day diverted from frontline duties to plug gaps elsewhere.
Council officials are also looking to reduce their own grant payments to police by £250,000 as part of a four-year plan to save £126 million.
Late last year, it emerged city leaders would have to find additional savings of £15m in 2016-17 following finance minister John Swinney’s announcement that local authority funding would be slashed by at least 3.5 per cent.
Community campaigner Pip Wallen-Priestley, 60, of Leith, said: “I’m very concerned.
“Edinburgh’s population is growing and will impact on communities. There are lots of people living on top of each other and they’re not always the sort of people you would want as neighbours. If the service is passed to police then that should come with all the bells and whistles on to make sure they can respond effectively.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Officers have been liaising with the City of Edinburgh Council in relation to concerns regarding the availability of officers to respond to calls should the service provided by the night noise team be withdrawn.
“This is likely to impact on the level of service the public receive, especially during periods of high demand when there is an increase in people visiting the Capital and at the weekend when calls with greater risk must be prioritised.”
City leaders stressed that they had not finalised the 2016-17 budget. A council spokeswoman said: “All feedback will be considered when councillors set the budget.”