East Lothian Council

Council and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service discuss Gullane college proposals

Published Friday 22nd November 13

Gullane fire school

Following decision to close fire training school

 East Lothian Council Leader, Willie Innes, Chief Executive, Angela Leitch and Councillors of the North Berwick Coastal ward recently met with Pat Watters, Chair of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Board and the SFRS Chief Officer, Alasdair Hay to discuss the recent announcement to close the Fire Service College in Gullane.  At the meeting, it was agreed that both the SFRS and the Chief Executive and Council members would seek to develop options for the future use of the facility in keeping with East Lothian’s planning framework.  

Cllr Innes said:

“The proposed closure of the Scottish Fire Service College in Gullane will have a serious impact on the local economy not just in Gullane but across the county. In addition to the loss of local jobs there would also be a significant reduction in trade for local businesses and the mothballing of a significant site in Gullane. 

“This comes at a time when we are seeing other national organisations withdrawing services from East Lothian – for example, the Police Scotland changes to public counter services in our towns, proposed withdrawal of traffic wardens, and also the Scottish Court Service’s closure of Haddington Sheriff Court. All have implications for local people and are potentially shifting costs from one part of the public sector to another. We have a duty to local people to recognise that the assets concerned are not just physical buildings but are integral to questions of East Lothian’s sustainability and growth. At the meeting we had an opportunity to detail clearly the impact this decision will have on the East Lothian economy and I felt that Pat Watters and Alasdair Hay listened to our concerns.”

East Lothian Council Chief Executive, Angela Leitch added:

“The East Lothian Partnership is made up of all the public sector organisations active in East Lothian, plus representatives of the private and independent sectors, and of course community representatives. The Partnership has agreed that one of the key priorities for this year was to look at properties across the county and consider how joint working and co-location could ensure that we continue to deliver essential services in the heart of our towns. The Partnership is progressing this as a matter of urgency.”

  Chief Officer Alasdair Hay said:

“I welcomed the opportunity to meet with partners from East Lothian Council to discuss the proposals from the SFRS to rationalise the property assets inherited by the Service following the move from eight regional fire and rescue services to a single, national service.

In order to deliver on the benefits of fire reform one of the things the SFRS and Board must do is be able to reduce duplication where we find it to make the significant savings required of the SFRS in the coming years and to protect frontline service delivery within our local communities.

The reduction in property assets will be carefully managed over a number of years and detailed implementation plans will be developed to support the transition to a reduced estate. As part of this process we will work closely with our partners to identify any implications for the wider economy in East Lothian and through working together seek to mitigate these where possible.” 

Pat Watters, Chair of the SFRS Board said:

“At a recent meeting of the Board and following a review of property requirements, members approved long-term plans to release the site of the Scottish Fire Service College at Gullane in favour of a single national training centre at Cambuslang.

“These plans have been developed to allow us to create a single infrastructure to support the delivery of our vital frontline services. The changes proposed come with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies for SFRS staff but we acknowledge that the loss of the facility as an SFRS training resource within the locality does cause concern for the Council as well as how the site might be used in the future. We will continue to work closely with our partners as we move forward with these plans.”

 

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