Councillor out of depth over Transport Police merger

Photograph used with permission. Copyright Thomas Nugent

Kilwinning SNP Councillor Scott Davidson took to the press and social media to express how ‘appalled’ he was by a recent Conservative motion which asked the chief executive, Elma Murray, to write to the Justice Secretary Michael Matheson requesting that the merger between Police Scotland and the British Transport Police (BTP) be put on hold due to ongoing concerns surrounding public safety and the timing of the unpopular merger.

Conservative Councillor Margaret George proposed the motion at the meeting of the Full Council in December and the motion was carried with the entire support of the Labour Administration and two Independent Councillors by a vote of 20 to 13.

Speaking against the motion the SNP Councillor accused the Conservatives of, “an appalling lack of knowledge on the subject.” However, it would appear as though asking that the merger be halted was the correct decision.

Michael Matheson recently performed a spectacular U-Turn on the proposed merger by finally accepting the advice of Police Scotland and the BTP that it be stopped after intense cross-party pressure led by the Conservatives in Holyrood.

Spurious claims made, in a Daily Record article (11th January 2018), by the SNP Councillor suggested, “they have also made it local by suggesting people’s safety in North Ayrshire will be compromised, effectively insulting local and national police officers of all ranks.”

Conservative Depute Leader Todd Ferguson responded, “At absolutely no time during the debate did the Conservatives ever make suggestions that would insult our local or national police officers. As a member of the Police Fire and Rescue Committee, along with three of my Conservative colleagues, we have witnessed first-hand the fantastic results that our local police are achieving through year on year reductions to North Ayrshire crime statistics. To suggest that we would ever insult Police Scotland, or their officers, is blatantly untrue and deeply concerning when coming from someone who should know better the damage these comments do to our wonderful emergency services.

Our motion suggested that public safety could be compromised within North Ayrshire and it reassures us that our concerns were justified. Deputy Chief Constable, Iain Livingstone, recently commented that the merger could not be achieved within the April 2019 timeframe, "without compromising public safety." The BTP Federation also, “welcomed the "entirely sensible decision" to delay the merger”.”

The SNP Councillor went on to complain that the Conservative motion was, “wasting our council’s time and money in such motions and in asking our chief executive to write to the Scottish Government”. If he is so concerned about the public purse, why did he bring a motion before North Ayrshire Council on 28th February 2018 asking for the chief executive to write to the U.K. Government in support of a nationalist MPs Bill?

Councillor Ferguson stressed, “the ill-informed attack over our motion explains all you need to know about the SNP and their manufactured grievances. Perhaps the SNP Councillor should take his head out of the sand to avoid embarrassing himself in future as it is apparently obvious that he is dramatically out of his depth when it comes to what is in the best interests of public safety.

If he had taken the time to research and listen to the wording of our motion, he would perhaps have seen that the best option was to show his support for the benefit of the people of North Ayrshire and their safety and not attempt to play political games.

Thankfully common sense has prevailed higher up the SNP echelons and Michael Matheson has been forced to concede that attempting to push through the merger within the April 2019 timeframe would be the wrong decision based on all the expert advice. I fully support calls to scrap the proposed merger altogether.”