Police reveal station sell-off plans

Borders Divisional Commander chief Superintendent Graham Sinclair and Deputy Divisional Commander Superintendent Andrew Allan discuss the proposed budget cuts at monday's press conference.
Borders Divisional Commander chief Superintendent Graham Sinclair and Deputy Divisional Commander Superintendent Andrew Allan discuss the proposed budget cuts at monday's press conference.

NEWCASTLETON police station is to be sold.

The building, which has not been in use for some time, is one of three in the Borders, including Innerleithen and West Linton, which is recommended for closure at next month’s meeting of the Lothian and Borders Police Board.

The move is expected to save a total of just under £14,000, with the facility in Newcastleton currently costing in the region of £4,000 for utilities as the board strives to make annual budget savings of between five and six per cent for the next two years.

But Chief Superintendant Graham Sinclair stressed the move would not affect their service to the village, which is currently handled by community beat officer Brian Murray.

He said: “It’s not just about taking something away and giving nothing in return. We’ve got to look at alternatives and how we can maintain a visible and meaningful presence in these communities.

“This will not diminish front line services.”

There are 15 police stations in the Borders and the three up for closure are the only ones which are unmanned.

It is understood there are other proposals to reduce the opening hours at Peebles, a move which was carried out successfully in Galashiels earlier this year, although the 24-hour station in Hawick will be unaffected.

Chief Inspector Sinclair revealed they had already saved £500,000 (around five per cent of the divisional budget of £11.5 million) in the last year through a pay freeze, voluntary redundancies and the non- filling of posts.

And while the latest plans would appear to be a drop in the ocean in terms of saving money, he believed it would go some way to preserving the 236 serving officers employed by Lothian and Borders Police. Mr Sinclair said: “Ninety-five per cent of our staff live in the Borders and that’s not true of anywhere else, so our officers have a vested interest in this area.

“We want this to work as well, but it’s set against a need to make savings. I’ve got a choice to make, do I make them on people or on buildings that are not in use. That is the choice I’ve made.”

The recommendations will be discussed at the board meeting on November 14, which is being held in Haddington.

Should they be given the go ahead, then the buildings will be put on the market “almost immediately”, although the money from any sale would go into the board’s capital spending budget.