CAT teams’ cuts nearly reversed

Midlothian police on patrol.
Midlothian police on patrol.

A Labour motion to reverse the decision to scrap the police community action teams (CAT) was narrowly defeated last week by Provost Joe Wallace’s casting vote.

Plans to remove the council-funded officers all together from next April have outraged communities across Midlothian. The ruling SNP administration maintains that Police Scotland should pay for all policing in the county.

At last week’s full council meeting Labour claimed that cuts already made to funding for the CAT teams are harming police response to incidents such as the recent trouble in Dalkeith town centre, and that this will only get worse when the CAT teams are scrapped in April.

Speaking at the meeting Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) said of the plans: “I urge you to reconsider this decision. I think personally it’s the worst decision I can remember this council taking, as it’s really going to impact on our communities.”

He added that Labour would fund the CAT teams with council reserves “at this point”.

Green’s Councillor Ian Baxter said: “I agree with the motion in principle and 100 per cent of people would agree with it, but what they wouldn’t agree with necessarily is where the money is going to come from just now.

“I really do look forward to the budget proposals from the Labour group to see where the money is going to come from.”

Councillor Bob Constable (SNP) said that this extra funding had been withdrawn by other councils, notably Glasgow, and added that he did not believe Midlothian citizens were worse behaved than people anywhere else.

The motion was defeated when Provost Wallace opposed it following an eight-each tie along SNP and Labour lines, with Independent and Green councillors abstaining.