Emergency service reforms discussed

ANGUS Council has agreed to make provisions for a government overhaul of the emergency services next year.

At the full council meeting in Forfar on Thursday a report was presented to councillors recommending Angus Council apply to become a pathfinder authority in respect of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 which comes into effect on April 1, 2013, and provides for new Scottish Police and Fire and Rescue Services.

The Strategic Policy Committee was proposed to assume overall responsibility for Police and Fire and Rescue reform.

It was further agreed that the Strategic Policy Committee would establish a sub-committee with responsibility for dealing with Police and Fire and Rescue matters at their meeting in October.

Following the recommendations in the report would ensure Angus Council has in place appropriate procedures to ensure the delivery of locally accountable Police and Fire and Rescue services for Angus.

Independent Carnoustie councillor Bill Bowles opened the discussion. He said: “I’m glad to see that we are finally catching up with the rest of Scotland, bearing in mind that we only have six months before it comes into force.

“I do have some issues and concerns regarding the police structure. I have worries that ultimately because Angus is such a relatively crime free area that we may lose resources. That Scotland as a whole will now be aligned on the Glasgow and Edinburgh central belt.”

Conservative Kirriemuir councillor Ronnie Proctor shared Councillor Bowles’ concerns. He said: “We should be very mindful of the move to divert resources from Angus down to the central belt. The relationship we have is quite unique, we should strive to retain that.”

Montrose councillor David May added: “I have on many occasions in the chamber expressed my huge concerns about the centralisation of police and fire services.

“I believe that merging the different local fire and rescue as well as police services into a centralised model is a bad decision, as in my view, local people know best.

“However, the Scottish Government has passed this and I have to accept this decision and I believe that we in Angus can help to make sure that the new system works as well as possible for Angus.”

Monifieth SNP councillor Rob Murray urged councillors to support the proposals.

He said: “It is happening and we should work with it and get the best out of it.

“We do need to tackle this positively now, wether or not we agree with that decision and work with them because that is the way we can get the best out of it.”

Leader of Angus Council Ian Gaul made the recommendation that the council should use the experience of its councillors advantageously.

He said: “I do concur with the motion that we have some experienced people on the board and that we should take advantage of that.”