Leader: Reasons behind Fettes police HQ sell-off

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SELLING off the former police headquarters at Fettes makes a lot of sense. It is almost a decade since the old office block was condemned as not fit for purpose and the cost of bringing it up to modern standards written off as prohibitive.

Officers and support staff have in the meantime had to solider on in conditions that in a less dedicated workforce might easily have sparked a walk-out. The temperature in some of the decrepit offices is often more suitable for a sauna than a professional working environment.

The sell-off of the old Lothian and Borders force headquarters, along with its Strathclyde counterpart in Pitt Street, Glasgow, was put forward as one of the benefits of creating a national police force. With a new headquarters at Tulliallan Castle, near Kincardine, its role as a force HQ is redundant. Pitt Street is already on the market and Fettes will surely follow soon.

The move makes financial sense. Selling off prime real estate in one of the most desirable parts of the Capital will net the police coffers several million pounds as well as saving on substantial running costs.

Building, or renting, replacement office accommodation elsewhere, perhaps on the outskirts or even outside Edinburgh, would be considerably cheaper.

Some police staff might miss the benefits of working in a city centre location, but they would get decent working conditions at long last, so from a police and public finance perspective it is a win-win situation.

With traffic already busy at peak times in Stockbridge, residents will not welcome the prospect of a large flats development going up in their place, although any extra cars that would bring would be largely offset by the police moving out.

With the city in desperate need of identifying land suitable for housebuilding, that has to be the most likely future for Fettes.