Single police force proposal rejected

ANGUS councillors have rejected proposals for a single Scotland-wide police force and fire and rescue service.

At a meeting of the council’s strategic policy committee last Tuesday, administration leader Bob Myles voiced his concerns over the proposals to the agreement of the committee members who said they could not accept them in their current form.

Mr Myles said the scheme, to which the council was responding officially, was “one of the most flawed consultations” the authority has ever been asked to reflect on.

Issues raised at the meeting included the apparent lack of evidence of the proposals’ economic viability and the effect centralisation could have on local communities. Some members were also concerned that resources would be targeted mainly to more densely populated areas.

Mr Myles said: “The consultation makes assumptions that have not been backed up by any budgeted evidence. The rush by certain political leaders to push through a single police force and single fire services is like a runaway train.

“Someone has to put the brakes on fast before it goes headlong over a precipice and we can’t get it back on track.

“We fully recognise that there have to be changes and we need efficiencies in all our public services but before we make any radical changes they should be fully thought out and budgeted accurately.

“All evidence in the past has shown that any structural change is far more costly than was ever envisaged initially and I have no reason to expect this would be any different.”

The consultation was drafted by the previous SNP administration at Holyrood and claimed there is a “strong case” for unifying both police and fire services as a means of dealing with budget cuts from Westminster.

The idea was also backed by Labour, while the Conservatives are in favour of a single police force and a “full debate” on similar proposals for fire and rescue services.

The Liberal Democrats were completely opposed to the proposal.

Council SNP opposition leader Helen Oswald said that if her party was to form an administration after last Thursday’s election, no decision would be made until the results of the consultation were made available.

She also said it would also await the outcome of the Christie Commission, which was established last year as a means of outlining recommendations for the future of all Scottish emergency services.

Committee vice-convener Ian Mackintosh, who also chairs the Tayside Joint Police Board, said there are increasingly more questions being raised on the benefits of centralising both services.