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Caithness News Bulletins November 2004

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Highland MSP Maureen MacMillan Still Fighting To Retain Fire Control Centre In Inverness
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has questioned the Deputy Minister for Justice Hugh Henry on how the Scottish Executive will respond to the recent consultation on fire control rooms in Scotland. The report by consultants Mott MacDonald recommended that the existing eight fire brigade control rooms in Scotland be reduced in number to one, two or three.

Mrs Macmillan commented, "I raised this issue during Ministerial Question Time and in his response the Deputy Justice Minister advised that the Executive intended to do further work to address the issues raised in the responses and discuss the results with stakeholders. The Minister is well aware of the concerns which I and others have raised about the future of the Inverness fire brigade control room and the uncertainty this is causing staff. I also asked for some kind of timescale with regard to the new part of the consultation. He replied that during the consultation some complex and specific issues were raised, one of which questioned the financial basis on which the calculations were made in the consultant's report. The Minister said he intended to re-examine the figures on which the report was based. He could not give me a time frame but committed the Executive to going back and looking carefully at the issues and arguments and thoroughly re-examining the processes to date.

I still remain totally convinced of the case for retaining the Inverness fire brigade control room, to provide the high level of local and logistical knowledge which exists. Accepting that the present eight control room structure may not survive, I consider the best option for the future then would be two control rooms in the central belt with one in the north, at Inverness.

It is essential that the public of the Highlands and Islands continue to enjoy the high quality service they receive from the Inverness fire brigade control room staff and at the end of the day this is a matter of public safety. I will continue to do all within my power, including further lobbying of the Deputy Justice Minister, to ensure the future of Inverness fire brigade control room."