THE top cop embroiled in plans to close Greenock police station has made an 'unprecedented' intervention in cash-strapped Inverclyde Council's budget process amid fears the district's CCTV network may have to be axed.

Chief Superintendent Gordon McCreadie has - after taking legal advice - written to council leader Stephen McCabe warning against mothballing the crime-fighting camera system and community warden service to make £838,000 of savings - and offered a Police Scotland contribution of less than £30k.

In his 2,300-word letter, area police commander Mr McCreadie tells Mr McCabe that cutting these 'essential services' would have a 'detrimental effect' on communities and could be 'contrary to our shared statutory obligations'.

But Councillor McCabe has hit back challenging the chief superintendent to consider upping Police Scotland's currently 'modest' contribution towards the running of Inverclyde's public space CCTV network. 

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Mr McCabe told the Telegraph: “They’re only providing a modest contribution, just under £30k, and that contribution hasn’t increased for a good number of years, and it hasn’t kept pace with inflation.

“The challenge I’ve made back to him is if his desire is to maintain the CCTV system, is he in his division prepared to significantly increase the cost of the contribution they make towards the cost of the system?

“I’m waiting for the response."

Councillor McCabe added: "I’ve given the example of saying they could meet 50 per cent of the costs, and if he comes back and says that they’re prepared to increase their contribution that would make it an easier decision for councillors to maintain the system.

“But if Police Scotland are saying they wouldn’t under any circumstances increase the contribution that they make that obviously presents us with the ongoing challenge of how we balance our budget.

Greenock Telegraph: Stephen McCabe

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“The reality is if we have to make savings, he’s asking us to choose the CCTV and community wardens over other savings.

“We have to look at the options and decide what would be the least damaging decision to take, it’s a very difficult decision.

“We would certainly be helped if the police would significantly increase their contribution.”

Ch Supt McCreadie tells Mr McCabe in his letter that he sought 'interim legal counsel' before writing to him.

Inverclyde Council members voted last week to consult on a range of potential cuts to help plug a multi-million-pound budget gap.

Among the 16 savings options outlined in the consultation were proposals to stop the CCTV and community warden service, which would save the council £218k and £620k respectively.

Greenock Telegraph: Inverclyde’s top police officer makes 'unprecedented' intervention over bleak proposals to slash

In his correspondence with councillor McCabe, the chief superintendent acknowledges the financial issues facing the council, but states that a reduction or withdrawal of the CCTV and community warden services could have serious consequences for the area.

He states: “It would be remiss of me not to highlight my serious concern that any decision to remove or reduce CCTV provision and Community Wardens would have a detrimental effect on the communities of Inverclyde and would impact on several other agencies including Police Scotland.

“As I have publicly stated in the Police and Fire Scrutiny Panel, I consider that these are essential services.

“I feel this proposal would undermine the commitments set out in several agreed strategies, including the commitment to tackling Violence Against Women and Girls.

“Finally, I believe, any decision to amend the commitments set out in the Antisocial Behaviour Strategy without the full and proper consultation detailed in the act, would be contrary to our shared statutory obligations.”

Greenock Telegraph:

Councillor McCabe said he was ‘not surprised’ by the police’s request and added that the council intended to consult with all of its partner organisations and service users who might be affected by the potential cutbacks.

He told the Telegraph: “I’ve never had the situation where the divisional commander has written in such terms to me I have to say, the discussions that have taken place have tended to be private discussions particularly at official level.

“It’s probably unprecedented that he has written to me in those terms but as I say I can fully understand the representations, if I was running the local division of Police Scotland, I would probably be making those same representations.

“What the divisional commander has to understand, and he acknowledges it in his letter, is the very difficult financial position that we are.

“It’s probably a worse financial position than Police Scotland I have to say, they got a better settlement than us from the Scottish Government, but they equally have challenges which is one of the reasons why they’re downsizing Greenock police station.

He added: “The fact that we’re consulting on these cuts wasn’t a surprise to the police and we’re happy to listen to their representations in the same way we’re happy to listen to representations from the general public and any other interested organisations.”

The second phase of Inverclyde Council’s budget consultation is set to run until February 14, with the council set to make its decision on which savings options to take at the end of the month.