Police counter cuts: Community fears being cut off

Paul Steward believes a police station is 'key to the community'. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
Paul Steward believes a police station is 'key to the community'. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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FURIOUS residents in South Queensferry claim they will be “cut off from police” if its counter closes.

The station is one of ten across the Lothians that will shut its front desk under proposals floated by the single force chiefs.

Its counter is currently open from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, with Police Scotland figures showing it had 176 visitors in five days. But despite having the equivalent of just over 9000 people through its doors every year, police bosses claim there is “little public demand” and plan to close it except during busy times in the summer.

Keith Giblett, chairman of Queensferry and District community council, said locals were getting the “thin end of the wedge” and would struggle to get to another station.

He said: “We are strongly opposed to it for a lot of reasons. Queensferry and west Edinburgh is different to the city centre, we don’t have the transport links to get to the counters that would remain open.

“The police counter is really important to this community and not everybody has Twitter or Facebook. Queensferry itself has an ageing community and for some people, seeing 
someone face to face is very important.

“These people do a lot of things other than sit at a table. It begs the question of who is going to do this work and whether it is going to place an additional burden on our community police officers.”

The community council has objected to the proposals on the grounds it is home to the busiest lifeboat station in Scotland and has 22 liner visits a year, putting an additional strain on services.

The Forth Bridge Festival next year and the 125-year celebration in 2016 are also expected to bring in thousands of additional visitors.

Angry locals have hit out at the plans and are backing the Save Our Station campaign against the planned cuts.

Paul Steward, 53, a resident and owner of The Boathouse in South Queensferry, said these police stations were “key to the community”.

He said: “There’s basically very little left in the community now and I don’t agree with it.

“I think the police in South Queensferry do a terrific job, we have a community officer who is great. But this is about balancing the books, which is a shame as the police are doing a great job in difficult circumstances.”

The cuts are planned across the Lothians, despite figures showing more than 100,000 people a year use the stations that are due to have their public counters axed. It is estimated the changes will lose 830 opening hours to the public. Front desks earmarked for closure include Craigmillar, Corstorphine, Oxgangs, and South Queensferry. Craigmillar and Corstorphine will deliver a service via local community hubs.

Former police officer and Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart, who has constituents in two of the areas affected, said: “If community policing is to mean anything then it needs to be accessible in those communities.”

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How you can help

Back the campaign by displaying a poster and signing the petition, which is already available to sign at several locations including:

• The Mill at St Joseph’s, the cafe beside Balerno Parish Church;

• Balerno Garage Ltd, Deanpark Brae;

• Sideburns Barber Shop, Oxgangs Broadway, Oxgangs;

• Craigmillar Post Office, Niddrie Mains Road.

To receive a petition and poster e-mail kate.pickles@jpress.co.uk or call 0131-620 8733, or call into the offices at 108 Holyrood Road.

You can also download a poster by clicking here

Email the following to SoS@edinburghnews.com along with your name and address

“Dear Sir Stephen House,

I want my local police station to stay open to the public. Please think again.”