Thank you to everyone who signed the petition and for expressing your support to keep our emergency services local!
As you may be aware, the Scottish Government has successfully steered a Bill through parliament which will establish a single national police force and a national fire and rescue service on 1 April 2013.
Chief constables, fire chiefs, police boards, local authorities and the public had all expressed real fears about these proposals, concerns that I believe have not been addressed. It is also disappointing that the Government chose to ignore the results of its own initial consultation.
Many rural parts of Scotland - including the North East - rely heavily on retained and volunteer fire fighters. In the Grampian region, we have 33 retained fire stations compared to six full-time. There is a very real risk that a single fire and rescue service could lead to a number of those retained stations being closed. COSLA, the representative body of Scotland's authorities, has warned that the plans could lead to "up to 1500 firefighters [across Scotland] losing their jobs". I have challenged the Scottish Government to guarantee that retained and volunteer stations will not be affected by the plans. Their loss would be a disaster for rural fire and rescue services.
Grampian Police and Grampian Fire and Rescue are rightly regarded as effective local services and it is wrong that their success is being jeopardised by the removal of local accountability and local command. My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I believe that Scotland-wide services simply cannot be as responsive to local needs as our current local services.
Thank you for your interest but we are no longer accepting signatures for this petition.