Local politicians have pledged to continue their backing for the campaign against Police Scotland’s proposal to close the Police Control room in Dumfries.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray and Russell Brown MP for Dumfries and Galloway met with police control room staff over the weekend. Following a meeting last week with staff, Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson will also be raising the issue at a meeting of full council this week.
The control room’s closure was confirmed at meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) Board on Thursday (30 January). Dr Murray and Mr Brown met with the control room staff at Cornwall Mount on Friday (31 January). Mr Brown also met with staff based in Stranraer on Saturday (1 February). Dr Murray has also met with local members of the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) after the closure of Dumfries Fire Control Room was confirmed by the Fire and Rescue Service Board on Thursday as well. Dr Murray has now put down a motion in the Scottish Parliament condemning the lack of consultation with the staff, public and public sector agencies and for not exploring the potential of a joint control including functions from across the public agencies.
Elaine Murray MSP said:
“Having met with police control staff and members of the FBU, I have seen at first hand anger both sets of staff feel over these closure decisions. While both of sets of staff will be offered relocation, it is clear that simply isn’t an option. This is compulsory redundancy in all but name.”
“I have put down a further motion in the Scottish Parliament and marked it for debate as these closures must be discussed in Parliament. The Police Scotland Authority Board is not a democratic body. Its members were appointed. Yet they have been able to make decisions that affect local people without having any form of public consultation. As it appointed the board members, the Government must take responsibility for its actions.
Russell Brown MP said:
“Having met with staff and officers both in Dumfries and Stranraer, what infuriates them not only the decision but the way in which the decision was made. It really is a cowardly act for Police Scotland to publish these plans and bulldoze them through within a week without any meaningful consultation. To give staff just ten weeks notice before they close Dumfries first it utterly disgusting. We need to keep the campaign going and make the case that even if the closure goes ahead, more time is needed and most importantly Police Scotland need to find ways to mitigate against the closure by bringing other Police staff jobs to Dumfries. Across Scotland, there are Police staff posts. These are being gradually centralised by Police Scotland in an ad hoc way and Police Scotland don’t seem to have any strategy whatsoever for the long term structure of the service. We have 34 dedicated police staff here in Dumfries frankly facing the sack simply because Police Scotland are discriminating against the south of Scotland. I have been in touch with the Chair of the Scottish Police Authority and will be making clear that they need to get their act together and start demanding from Police Scotland a proper strategy that delivers a fair distribution of jobs across Scotland”.
Meanwhile , the issue will be brought before this week’s meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council where Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson will seek councillors agreement to fully back the campaign to retain jobs in Dumfries. Councillor Nicholson has already raised the matter at a meeting of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) who agreed on Friday to place the item on the agenda of COSLA at their next meeting in February.
Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson said, “What happened in Dumfries, where Police Scotland failed to consult properly over the closure when just 24 hours earlier they promised to do so, not only concerns councillors locally but right across Scotland. I am pleased I received the support of all council’s when I asked for the matter to be placed on the agenda at the next meeting of COSLA in February. I will be also be asking all councillors at a meeting of full council this week to give their full support to the campaign by control staff save jobs and I will be seeking a meeting with the Chief Constable Sir Stephen House and the Chair of the Scottish Police Authority. We now have a really serious break down in confidence between the council and Police Scotland at a national level and that needs to be resolved”.