Resilience centre no substitue, say politicians

The announcement today (14 August 2014) by the Scottish Government of the establishment of a National Centre for Resilience is no substitute for the axing of 46 police and fire control room jobs, according to local politicians.

Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council Ronnie Nicholson said, “This is the first demonstration of how this Council has successfully lobbied the Scottish Government to get jobs here in Dumfries and Galloway, out with the central belt. It shows that it is working. This new facility will create a number of new jobs here in our region. These are jobs of national significance. Whilst we welcome the announcement of the new jobs, we will continue to lobby the Scottish Government. In May, we lost 34 civilian staff through the loss of the Police control room. The closure of the Fire Control room will impact a further 12 civilian staff. We are committed to creating jobs locally. We know this is a challenge, but one that our Council is prepared to meet in order to deliver for local people.”

The Council Leader however was critical of the Scottish Government’s handling of today’s announcement highlighting that fact that councillors were kept in the dark about the move until today.

Ronnie Nicholson said “Unfortunately, councillors have been left very much in dark over the details of announcement by the Scottish Government which I suspect is due to the referendum. The centre will be at the Crichton, which is owned by the council but we don’t yet know the full implications for both the council’s resilience team and indeed if there will be any costs to the council. I will be asking for a report to councillors as a matter of urgency”.

Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said, “The creation of any jobs in this area is welcome and Dumfries and Galloway Council and their partners are to be congratulated for making the case to bring this national centre to the Crichton. I understand that the local fire and rescue service and Fire Brigades Union have also been active in arguing for this development. However the creation of a handful of posts does not replace the jobs lost by the closures of the police control centre and the proposed closure of the fire and rescue centre, nor the other civilian posts lost to the police service. It also isn’t clear whether the posts will be permanent and full time and whether they will be new posts or relocation of staff currently in other posts elsewhere in the emergency services.”

“I also understand that this decision was reached some time ago and question why this announcement has been made now only 5 weeks before the independence referendum with councillors and local MPs and MSPs being kept in the dark over the details.”

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said, “We shouldn’t be in any doubt that this announcement has come about because of the huge public backlash and subsequent lobbying at the decision of the Scottish Government to axe nearly 50 posts by closing the Police and Fire control room. The Scottish Government thought they could shut the control rooms quietly and no one would notice but they were wrong. However, this announcement doesn’t go nearly far enough. The Scottish Government’s financial contribution to the new centre and jobs is peanuts, so the campaign continues until we see more new posts created in the area and our region starts to get a fair show of Government funded posts”.