A NEW police headquarters will be based in Dalkeith – not Livingston – in a restructuring switch described as a “bombshell snub” by critics.
The regional Lothian command hub for the new Scotland-wide force is being based in Dalkeith as it is more central to the area it serves.
However, the decision has outraged West Lothian Council chiefs, who will today express “disappointment” at the decision not to hand the role to Livingston – the region’s largest population centre, with 65,000 residents, as opposed to Dalkeith, which has a population of 12,000 according to the 2001 Census.
Support for the restructuring was only given by West Lothian Council on the condition the police headquarters were based in Livingston.
However, the local authority has since been told in writing that Dalkeith had been independently chosen because it was central for the new division and the property was entirely under police ownership.
The move comes despite the option of basing the control centre in Livingston Civic Centre, which opened three years ago.
The centre is based on the north bank of the River Almond and is home to Lothian and Borders divisional headquarters under the soon-to-be abandoned structure.
The Crown Office and procurator fiscal services, the sheriff and justice of the peace court complex, Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue operations and the council all work from the hub. The Divisional Crime Intelligence Unit is also to be moved there.
Council leader John McGinty said: “We believe that opportunities for shared working offered by the civic centre made Livingston an attractive option for the new divisional headquarters, and are disappointed it was not chosen.”
Dedridge Community Council secretary David Cleghorn said: “The police downgrading the service in West Lothian is the equivalent to downgrading St John’s Hospital – it’s the same argument. We end up losing out again and that’s what this would amount to.
“There’s been no consultation on this one.”
Local police commander Chief Supt Jeanette McDiarmid said: “A range of criteria was considered in reaching a decision.”
NEW LOT NOT A HAPPY ONE
THE merger of eight police forces across Scotland into one is expected to cause major teething problems when the new service goes live next month.
Force chief Stephen House has conceded as many as 3000 jobs could be axed under the structural shake-up. He also warned MSPs of major flaws in reform legislation, saying they may not allow him to control police support staff.