TWO new police community contact vehicles bought at a cost of £50,000 have yet to hit the road – eight months after it was agreed they would be purchased, writes Kenny Paterson.
The decision to buy the high visibility vans was made by the Lothian and Borders Police Board back in April to offset the force’s decision to close West Linton, Innerleithen and Newcastleton’s unmanned stations.
But as yet the CCVs, to be predominantly used by community beat officers to serve rural villages in Tweeddale and Berwickshire, are still not operational.
Gavin Logan, councillor of Tweeddale East, who successfully campaigned for the purchase of the CCVs while on the police board, is frustrated the process has taken so long.
He told TheSouthern: “I am disappointed the vehicles are not in place yet, with it being around a year since the stations closed.
“I am sure the communities of Tweeddale and Berwickshire will look forward to seeing them in their areas.
“They will prove valuable assets to the police and will help the fight against rural crime and the increasing cultivation of drugs such as cannabis in rural locations.”
Local area commander Andrew Allan confirmed the CCVs – one such vehicle already operates in the Borders – had been ordered but have not yet been delivered because of particular specifications required by the force.
He added: “I am looking forward to the arrival and use of these vehicles, which I believe will further enhance our visible presence and work with local communities.”
Lothian and Borders Police announced plans to close the stations of West Linton, Innerleithen and Newcastleton in October 2011 as G Division required to shave five per cent from its £11.5million budget over two years.
It was estimated at the time that the sell-offs would save the force nearly £16,000 per year in running costs.
Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Graham Sinclair said at the time: “I appreciate there will be a perception that the three settlements will have lost out and I sympathise with that view and understand it is a controversial issue.
“But the reality is that these buildings really are surplus to our requirements and my first duty is to preserve frontline policing and give assurances that this will not impact on the service we offer.”
The three stations were placed on the market in October this year, with West Linton sold at a guide price of £80,000.
The remaining two are still for sale, the former Innerleithen station priced at £80,000 while Newcastleton’s North Hermitage Street premises is listed at £40,000.