Unanimous opposition to police counter closure bid

Fiona O'Donnell MP and Iain Gray MSP. Picture: contributed
Fiona O'Donnell MP and Iain Gray MSP. Picture: contributed
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Tranent residents are unanimous in their opposition to closing the town’s police ­station to the public, the area’s parliamentarians said today.

East Lothian MSP Iain Gray and MP Fiona O’Donnell said they had gone door-to-door, talking to residents about the Police Scotland proposals to shut the front counter and withdraw the county’s traffic warden service, and the message they received was a resounding ‘no’ to both.Tranent is one of ten police stations the Lothians, used by more than 100,000 people a year, where police chiefs plan to close the public counter.

The Evening News is campaigning for a rethink on the closure plans and proposals to slash the opening hours at seven further stations.

Mr Gray and Ms O’Donnell have thrown their weight behind the campaign, while more than 1200 people have signed petitions, responded to letters or returned protest coupons.

Mr Gray said: “We already knew that people in Tranent were overwhelmingly opposed to these plans, but the message on the doorstep underlined the strength of the opposition. Local people want the reassurance that a public counter at the station provides.

“They also share our fear that if the front desk is allowed to close now the whole station will be next.”

Mr Gray said Chief Constable Sir Stephen House had promised to listen to views expressed by local people.

He said: “If enough people join us in opposing the plans for Tranent and rest of East Lothian then he will have to take notice.”

Ms O’Donnell insisted the unanimous view was that ­closing the counter would be a step backwards for the town.

She said: “Every single ­person we spoke to opposed the plans to close the front desk at Tranent police station and signed our petition.

“There is rarely an issue in politics that unites people in this way, but it is clear people in Tranent think what is being proposed is just not on.

“If local policing is to work effectively it must command the support of communities. If these plans are pushed through against the will of local people, I fear it will seriously undermine trust and set back local policing here in East Lothian.”

The plan to scrap police-funded traffic wardens has prompted fears of parking chaos. The council could pick up the responsibility if it chose, but it would mean huge extra costs and require a special parking order to go through the Scottish Parliament, which could take up to a year.

The Police Scotland consultation on the proposals ended on October 31 but the chief constable admitted they had received just 69 responses from members of the public and said they would accept late 

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