More time to air your views

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The public will have more time to have their say on proposals to reduce public counter opening times at local police stations .

The News and Chronicle previously reported that the plans would mean Cumbernauld police office would have a front counter service seven days a week, from 8am to 6pm, and Kilsyth police office would reduced its service to Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm.

Police Scotland announced the plans following a nationwide review and they stress that the organisation’s aim is to provide a consistent and more efficient service in local communities,

They say there has been a significant reduction in the use of public counter services in recent years, as alternative means of contacting them have developed and crime rates have fallen.

Labour MSPs, however, questioned Chief Constable Stephen House about the plans, and now the consultation, which was expected to end on November 1, has been extended for 30 days to give the public more time to make their views known.

Labour MSP Mark Griffin said his local survey on the matter, which has seen close to 700 people make their feelings known, was a sign that more time is needed to give people their say.

He said: “I have had an incredible response to my survey on this matter, with close to 90 per cent of those responding expressing concern at the plans.

“I am pleased that the Chief Constable has awarded more time for consultation, and I encourage people from across our area to take the time to respond.

“Police Scotland is facing deep funding cuts from the SNP Government – cuts of £140 million over the next two years.

“It is important that people across the area continue to stand up against the ever-growing list of cuts hitting Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, from local health services to our justice of the peace court and our college.

“ The constant attacks on our vital local services must stop.”

Labour MP Gregg McClymont added: “The proposals to cut Cumbernauld’s and Kilsyth’s police station opening hours strikes at the very heart of the role the police play in our community.

“Cumbernauld is one of Scotland’s biggest towns, bigger than some cities. Cumbernauld must have a police station accessible at all times to the nearly 50,000 people living here and rising.

“Police stations have always been places of safety and refuge for the scared or the desperate when they have nowhere else to go. These proposals undermine that fundamental principle.”

But SNP Councillor Tom Johnston has given his support to the plans. He checked the figures for overnight visitor trends for police stations across the area.

He said: “The choice is glaringly obvious: do you want a police officer sitting in the station from 6pm until 8am waiting for two – yes, two visitors over the 14 hours, or do you want him/her out on the overnight frontline? There are no statistics for Cumbernauld Station, but the current police review is based on local police professional knowledge and figures for comparable police station.

“I firmly believe that transferring overnight officers from the public service counters in Cumbernauld will lead to much improved face-to-face, home follow-ups to public complaints. Overnight front counters are locked in the past. Virtually no-one visits police stations overnight. People phone 101,or 999, and frontline officers go to them. Police Scotland must save £60 million this year and a further £120 million next year”

Local people can sign up to Mark Griffin’s petition against the closures by visiting http://www.markgriffinmsp.org.uk/content/petition/