Whithorn ‘hub’ idea welcomed

A Police Scotland Chief Inspector has reassured elected members that the force are “not looking to withdraw from communities” by shutting stations in rural towns.

Chief Inspector Mark Hollis was at the monthly meeting of Wigtown Area Committee on Wednesday to give the police performance report for April to September 2016.

Replying to a question from Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes about the fate of the police station in Whithorn, the Inspector said: “If Whithorn were to shut down we would be looking at alternative sites like the ambulance or the fire station.”

Councillor Geddes commented that once the consultation process was complete, he would favour the idea of having a ‘hub’ as a base for emergency services and community safety teams, that would be of benefit to South Machars communities like the Isle of Whithorn, Whithorn, Garlieston and Sorbie.

Fellow Mid Galloway Councillor Jim McColm said he was pleased to note that Chief Inspector Hollis recognised the need to retain a police presence in the South Machars.

Police Scotland proposals to ‘rationalise’ stations comes hot on the heels of other changes such as axing traffic wardens, closing the control room in Dumfries and police counters in rural stations. But Inspector Hollis told the elected members the proposed closures were “not a cost saving exercise”.

After the meeting, Mid Galloway Councillor Graham Nicol commented; “If it’s not, then why are they doing it?”

Concerning the six-monthly report, the chief inspector said that it was “positive” with a reduction in crimes of violence, down from 18 to 14 from the corresponding period last year. Serious assaults had also gone down from 11 to four, although robberies had increased from three to five.

Of most concern were two robberies in the streets of Stranraer, which was a new trend. Councillors wanted the council to investigate if the new LED style street lighting could be a factor in these statistics after reports of dark patches.