chief Constable Sir Stephen House was today urged to launch a fresh consultation on controversial plans to close police stations to the public.
Scotland’s top policeman admitted last week that only 69 members of the public had sent in comments to Police Scotland on the proposals since they were published on October 1.
In contrast, almost 1200 people have signed petitions, sent in coupons or written letters backing the Evening News campaign for a rethink on the move to shut ten police counters in Edinburgh and the Lothians and slash the opening hours of seven more.
Today senior politicians claimed the police’s 30-day period for responses was rushed and excluded some of the people who would be most affected.
Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said Sir Stephen should relaunch the consultation with a new three-month deadline of the end of January – or at least the end of the year. She said: “I think that’s the best way to make sure it’s done properly. They are a public body and if they embark on a consultation it should be totally inclusive.
“There has been such a reliance on the internet and a lot of elderly people, who probably value this service most, are not computer literate and don’t have access to the internet.”
And Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes said: “This has been such flawed exercise I think they should start again.
“On something as significant as this we need to go back to the drawing board, put everything on the table, let people think about it and give them time to discuss it. And afterwards they should publish all the responses.”
She said the police needed to pay heed to the responses to the Evening News campaign.
“When people are informed about it they clearly express their concerns and expect that to be taken seriously,” she said.
“At first the police were not going to have a consultation, then they said ‘Here is an e-mail’. That’s not what people consider a normal consultation.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said there were no plans to formally open the consultation again, but late submissions would be taken into consideration as they moved towards final recommendations over the next four to six weeks.