Protests over Portobello police station closure

There have been rumours that the Portobello police station building could be sold off to pub chain Wetherspoon. Picture: Greg Macvean

There have been rumours that the Portobello police station building could be sold off to pub chain Wetherspoon. Picture: Greg Macvean

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Residents of Portobello are fighting to save the seaside town’s closure-threatened police station in the latest in a long line of campaigns.

It comes after Police Scotland ordered a comprehensive re-examination of when police station public counters are open, as part of a search for financial savings.

There are concerns some stations could close altogether – with Portobello among those feared could be axed – amid speculation that the plan is to have only one 24-hour station in each division.

Less than 24 hours after the review was announced, a Facebook page – Save Porty Police Station – was set up and has been already been signed by more than 100 people.

The author of the page proclaimed: “Portobello Police Station is an extremely important part of the community, offering residents the re-assurance of having a local police force on their High Street ready to respond and provide a strong sense of security.

“How can we possibly achieve improvements in these areas by reducing or taking away a police Station, thus cutting the frontline service, that has been visible on our High Street for the past 117 years?”

The force has occupied the building, originally built as the town hall in 1878, since 1896.

Portobello Councillor David Walker said he was “concerned” about the proposals amid speculation the station was to be sold to a pub chain.

He said: “Rumours have been going around Portobello for some time that police were in the process of attending discussions to sell the building to Wetherspoon.

“It’s a marvellous building and I could imagine it would make an invaluable asset for the new police force – if the police go through with closing it, it will be a real insult to the community.

“One of the worst aspects of crime is the fear of crime and moving the police station isn’t going to boost anyone’s 
confidence.”

John Stewart, left, chairman of Portobello Community Council, said rumours of the station’s potential demise had been circulating for some time.

Speaking in a personal capacity, he said: “There is a general feeling of concern amongst residents.

“I’m sure than most people would prefer there to be a police presence in Portobello, rather than Craigmillar Police station being the main point of contact for the 
neighbourhood.”

In recent years, tenacious Portobello residents have set up a number of campaign groups, most with their own acronyms.

A high profile battle has raged between supporters of building a new high school on Portobello Park – PFANS – and PPAG, who are bitterly against the plans, for years.

Mr Stewart said: “There is a community spirit in Portobello and that stems from the time when it was an independent borough.

“In the past we have had our own town council and I think that has contributed to the independent spirit that we have retained. Other suburbs don’t have this tradition.”

Police Scotland have said any significant changes to opening hours will be subject to local engagement, while a spokesman said no discussions had taken place with 
Wetherspoon.