Following the centralisation of our police and fire services earlier this year, the new nationwide organisations have now set their sights on closing frontline services and eroding their relationship with the communities that they serve.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are planning to close a number of facilities in the North East, most notably the state-of-the-art control room in Aberdeen.
Plans announced by Police Scotland recently could see 8 police stations in the North East close their doors to the public. Many more will slash their opening hours, with the public counters at stations across the region open for 500 hours a week less than at present. Lib Dems have also highlighted the fact that a question mark hangs over the future of police control rooms across the country.
SNP centralisation is leading to the asset-stripping of local services and, because of the way the reforms were pushed through Parliament, local people won’t even be consulted on the planned closures.
Our centralised services are turning their backs on our local communities. And the plans will lead to a loss of local knowledge. For example, the ability of staff to obtain vital infromation from 999 callers can be the difference between life and death. If a distressed caller says there is an incident at Strachan or Finzean will staff in the Central Belt recognise these places from the way they are pronounced
The Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling for full and formal public consultations into these short-sighted and damaging closure plans. Our local communities deserve no less.
Alison McInnes OBE, Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland