19 August 2014

Local authorities in Scotland have sent submissions to the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee opposing the decision to close several police and fire control rooms.

In January, Scotland’s police and fire boards announced plans to reduce the number of control rooms to make £74 million in savings by 2026.

Fire service control rooms in Aberdeen, Inverness, Dumfries, Fife and Falkirk will be closed.

In their submissions, Aberdeenshire Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar? and Orkney Islands Council have raised concerns that difficulties understanding local dialects and a lack of local geographical knowledge could put lives at risks.

Orkney Islands Council said it “is extremely concerned at the direction ­taken by this proposal, given the vast area to be covered by the proposed new North ­Command Area Control in Dundee and the impossibility of the staff, with the best will in the world, being able to ­familiarise themselves with the detailed geography of the entire North area.”

It added: “Each part of this area, Orkney included, has its own local dialect and numerous locations with similar or identical names, which an operator with local knowledge would immediately recognise.

“An operator based in Dundee would take considerably longer to identify the precise location and the potential for error is high. In our view this represents a significant increase in risk to remote and rural areas of the north of Scotland, which has not been taken into account.”

In a bid to remove potential fire hazards, commercial buildings and non-domestic premises in Scotland are already forced to carry out a fire safety risk assessment under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, in conjunction with the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the enforcing authority has the power to prosecute the Dutyholder.