Anger as top cop re­veals new plans

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Douglas Dickie

Cam­bus­lang Po­lice Sta­tion could be set to close com­pletely, the Re­former can re­veal.

How­ever, Ruther­glen sta­tion will re­main open af­ter a re­view of Po­lice Scot­land’s es­tates.

We re­ported in Novem­ber that the two lo­cal sta­tions were among dozens across the coun­try be­ing con­sid­ered for clo­sure.

The area’s new chief in­spec­tor, Geraldine McSherry, has now writ­ten to politi­cians and com­mu­nity groups in­form­ing them that Po­lice Scot­land are seek­ing opin­ions on the clo­sure and sale of the Cam­bus­lang fa­cil­ity.

She said re­tain­ing both Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang was “no longer sus­tain­able”. She added: “By mak­ing the best use of the prop­erty we re­tain, we will be more ef­fi­cient and able to make bet­ter use of pub­lic funds that can be rein­vested into front­line polic­ing.”

Cam­bus­lang Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, who were due to meet on Tues­day night, con­firmed they re­ceived the let­ter and would dis­cuss their re­ply.

Trea­surer John Bachtler said: “This trend to­wards cen­tral­is­ing pub­lic and pri­vate ser­vices is very wor­ry­ing as it takes employment and ser­vices away from town cen­tres and leads to the ser­vices be­com­ing re­mote and less vis­i­ble and ac­count­able to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

“We know that many peo­ple in Cam­bus­lang were op­posed to the clo­sure of the front desk of Cam­bus­lang Po­lice Sta­tion, and would like to see this re­versed. They will be very un­happy to find out that the whole po­lice sta­tion is now clos­ing.

“We un­der­stand the need to make cost sav­ings, but Po­lice Scot­land seem to have for­got­ten that ef­fec­tive com­mu­nity polic­ing means be­ing part of the

com­mu­nity - not just com­ing in to carry out pa­trols but hav­ing a phys­i­cal pres­ence.”

Cam­bus­lang cur­rently houses de­tec­tive teams cov­er­ing the lo­cal area as well as East Kil­bride and Hamil­ton.

Pub­lic ac­cess to the build­ing, which only opened in 1994, was stopped in 2014.

The pos­si­bil­ity of clos­ing the sta­tion has been branded “com­pletely wrong” by Cam­bus­lang West Labour can­di­date Margaret Walker.

She said: “This rep­re­sents a fur­ther move away from com­mu­nity polic­ing, a com­mit­ment the SNP has be­trayed time and time again.

“All the ev­i­dence tells us that peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties ben­e­fit enor­mously from a po­lice pres­ence on the ground.

“It dis­cour­ages crime and an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour on the street sim­ply by the fact that it is there, pro­vid­ing a sense of se­cu­rity.”

Clare Haughey MSP ac­cused Labour of “scare­mon­ger­ing” and con­firmed she would op­pose the clo­sure.

She added: “Po­lice Scot­land is seek­ing views from elected mem­bers about the fu­ture op­tions for Cam­bus­lang Po­lice Sta­tion. There has been no de­ci­sion to close Cam­bus­lang sta­tion at this point.”

With coun­cil elec­tions on the hori­zon, the other par­ties also had their say.

Norman Rae, who is stand­ing in Cam­bus­lang West for the Lib­eral Democrats, said: “Ser­vices are now be­com­ing more re­mote from the com­mu­ni­ties they are sup­posed to serve.

“This plan to close Cam­bus­lang po­lice sta­tion is part of that wor­ry­ing trend and it must be re­jected.”

Ann Le Blond of the Con­ser­va­tives said: “This is an­other ex­am­ple of an SNP gov­ern­ment’s ob­ses­sion with cen­tral­is­ing ser­vices. Peo­ple in our com­mu­nity, in Cam­bus­lang, de­serve ser­vices in our lo­cal area which are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble.”

And David McCle­mont, who is stand­ing for the Scot­tish Greens, said: “Once again de­ci­sions that af­fect Cam­bus­lang are be­ing made else­where. This is a con­cern­ing de­vel­op­ment which is part of an in­creas­ing trend of cen­tral­i­sa­tion of pub­lic ser­vices.”

Po­lice Scot­land said they in­tend to con­sult the com­mu­nity on the po­ten­tial clo­sure.

Chief In­spec­tor Gavin Rus­sell said: “It is im­por­tant that we con­sider how our lo­cal fa­cil­i­ties are used to en­sure Po­lice Scot­land pro­vides a qual­ity ser­vice whilst con­sid­er­ing the needs and de­mands of our com­mu­ni­ties.

“At this time we plan to en­gage with our lo­cal part­ners and com­mu­ni­ties about the fu­ture use of our of­fices at Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang, as there are a range of op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able to us in­clud­ing re­lo­ca­tion and shared premises to sup­port the de­liv­ery of joined-up ser­vices to com­mu­ni­ties.

“We are com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing a pres­ence within the Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang ar­eas and there will be no change to the way that com­mu­nity po­lice of­fi­cers pa­trol both ar­eas and re­spond to calls. But it’s vi­tal to have an es­tate that sup­ports mod­ern work­ing prac­tices and also sup­ports the de­liv­ery of a lo­cal po­lice ser­vice that best meets lo­cal needs, im­proves ac­cess to the ser­vice and re­flects the pri­or­i­ties of the area.”

Op­po­si­tion Margaret Walker, a coun­cil can­di­date for the Cam­bus­lang West ward, is fight­ing the po­ten­tial clo­sure of Cam­bus­lang Po­lice Sta­tion

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