Keep fire control centres in north, says council leader

Highland Council leader Drew Hendry has written to Pat Watters, chair of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Board, to express his deep concerns about the proposal to close its Inverness control room and move to two control centres based in Dundee and Johnstone.

Mr Hendry wrote: “The Highland Council has real concerns that the move to two control centres, one in Dundee and one in Johnstone, may not provide an acceptable level of service to remote and rural parts of northern Scotland. One of the recognised strengths of the existing service is that emergency calls are handled by staff who are familiar with the Highland and Islands.

“The proposal to close the Inverness control centre does not recognise that Inverness and the wider Highland area is a fast-growing region and that its requirements for the future need be considered in the context of increasing demand. The Highland Council firmly believes that retaining a control centre in Inverness will enable the service to demonstrate the principle of giving equal importance to the north of Scotland and by recognising and valuing the skills and expertise of its staff here.”

Although the recommendations are being made in the context of a property review, Mr Hendry said it was the council’s concern that the impact would be felt in terms of service delivery and by the staff who work within the service.

He added: “I would urge you and your colleagues on the board to give this issue the most serious consideration and seek to find ways to support the Highlands and Islands through retention of the Inverness centre.”