SCOTLAND'S justice secretary has been grilled in parliament over the planned closure of Greenock police station - with an MSP describing it as an 'unprecedented threat to local policing'.

West Scotland MSP Neil Bibby - who has thrown his weight behind the Telegraph's Protect Our Policing campaign - raised the matter with Angela Constance and told of the 'extreme concern' in Inverclyde.

Labour's Mr Bibby demanded clarification from the cabinet secretary on how the SNP will financially support and protect local stations and policing, and quizzed her on the nature of any potential replacement for the Greenock station. 

He told Ms Constance: "It's important that the Scottish Government does not wash its hands of the issue or say that it is only an operational matter when my constituents in Greenock are extremely concerned about the possible closure of their local police station.

"What financial support will the Government provide to protect local stations if the police and public deem them necessary?"

Echoing the demands of our campaign, Mr Bibby said: "Where the police have indicated that they support a replacement presence, does the cabinet secretary agree that any replacement should be made on a like-for-like basis?"

READ MORE: Ex Provost pledges support to Protect Our Policing campaign

Ms Constance highlighted the need for Police Scotland to have 'modern and fit-for-purpose' facilities and pointed to the potential for 'co-location' with public sector services. 

The justice secretary also directed people to Police Scotland's ongoing consultation on the future of almost 30 stations and other buildings across Scotland. 

She added: "I recognise that people feel very strongly about the police estate and about police buildings in their local communities, hence the consultation. 

"As we move forward, it's crucial that we have modern and fit-for-purpose facilities and that we bear in mind that police officers tend to be mobile in their work.

"We are supportive of plans to co-locate with other parts of the public sector, including local authorities, which promotes closer working and collaboration, delivering better outcomes for individuals and communities. 

"The consultation is about using co-location to enhance the effectiveness of policing and to help local partnership working, as well as to improve the visibility and presence of policing."

Mr Bibby said he was 'disappointed' that Ms Constance 'refused to commit' to protecting the station and said the people of Inverclyde 'deserve better'. 

He has now urged the people of Inverclyde to back the Telegraph's campaign and respond to the Police Scotland consultation.

The Labour MSP puts the blame for the proposed closure of stations across the country firmly at the feet of the Scottish Government. 

Mr Bibby said: "It is a bit rich for the justice secretary to talk about upgrades to policing infrastructure when it is the Scottish Government's relentless cuts to policing budgets that have brought us to this point.

"It's not good enough for the Scottish Government or Police Scotland to just talk about maintaining a 'police presence'. 

"There are minimum standards that people have just now and have a right to expect in the future.

"This is important as many in Inverclyde - including the Tele - have made clear that a replacement must be like-for-like.

"We deserve a government that will stand up for our police station and stand up for local policing."