Councillor dismisses MSP’s comments

Local councillor for Fraserburgh and district Charles Buchan has hit back at claims in last week’s Fraserburgh Herald by Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes regarding the new Scotland-wide police service.

Commenting, Councillor Buchan said: “I had to read the article on the Lib Dem MSP’s views on local policing twice as I couldn’t believe it.

“As a local councillor, I now have far more opportunity to input into the local policing priorities and the local fire and rescue service plan than I ever did under the previous system.

“Prior to this month, only six councillors from Aberdeenshire had the opportunity through the Grampian Police Board to influence local priorities. Now, not only do all councillors in Aberdeenshire get the opportunity to feed back to the police at formal sessions the priorities that their constituents and community groups want to see tackled, but the policing plans are developed so there is one for each council ward.

“If anything, policing has become more local as a result of the changes.

“I want to see front-line policing maintained. The SNP Government has introduced 1000 more police officers since 2007, but cuts handed down by the London Government threaten this. Therefore, cutting down eight payroll departments and various other backroom functions across eight police forces into one removes wasteful duplication and saves money which can be used for bobbies on the beat.

“I will continue to work with our local police to make the new arrangements work for the benefit of my constituents.”

Councillor Buchan was responding to comments made by Alison McInnes who had, previously, said: “That vital link between police officers and the local community has been put in jeopardy so that there can be political control by the Justice Secretary.”

“For Scottish Liberal Democrats, the question at the heart of the reform debate has always been should our police services be run locally, guided by democratically elected representatives, with checks and balances to prevent the abuse of the singular powers that any police force has, or should it be run nationally by unelected people appointed by the government of the day?

“The SNP Government has chosen to turn its back on a system where police chiefs are appointed by locally-elected representatives; where police actions are scrutinised by locally-elected representatives; where the culture, policing priorities and budgets are managed by locally-elected members.

“Instead, all those things will be done by the Scottish Police Authority - an unelected board, appointed on the say-so of Scottish Ministers: 13 unelected people to hold one Scotland-wide force to account, 13 unelected people to oversee a budget of around £1 billion a year,” she added.

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