“Home Office must act now to remove fences” – Jo

Jo has urged the Home Office to give permission for the removal of security fences around Milngavie reservoir after agreement was reached on alternative measures.

In December, East Dunbartonshire Councillors passed a motion calling on local politicians to make a concerted effort to get unsightly fencing removed, which was erected around the reservoir in 2003 in response to alleged security threats.

Scottish Water has been in negotiations with Government officials to agreement on what alternative measures can be put in place to protect the water treatment works in order that the fences can be removed. Scottish Water revealed to Jo this week that an agreement has been reached, and they are now seeking a new Directive from the Home Office to take the fencing down.

Jo has written to the Home Office calling for a Directive to be issued as soon as possible.

Commenting, Jo said:

“Negotiations for the removal of the fencing have been going on for some time now, and there has been very little public information on what is going on, and a great deal of confusion on who is responsible for getting the fences removed.

“Though no light has been shed on what are the threats to the reservoir, I am pleased that an agreement has now been reached with Scottish Water on what protective measures can be put in place in order that the fences can be taken down.

“I am urging the Home Office to act as quickly as possible in issuing a new Directive so that these eyesores can be removed for good.”

The text of Jo’s letter to the Home Office appears below:

Pauline Neville-Jones

Minister for Security and Counter-Terrorism

Home Office

11th June 2010

Milngavie Reservoir security fencing

As the Member of Parliament for East Dunbartonshire, I am aware that many of my constituents are unhappy about the railings which were installed around Milngavie Reservoir in 2003, in response to a Directive from the Home Office, which was concerned about the possibility of the water being contaminated while the filtration system was yet to be installed.

Seven years on, many East Dunbartonshire residents feel the fences’ continual presence is unnecessary, particularly in light of the fact that appropriate filtration measures are now in place. They are an eyesore in what is one of the most beautiful parts of Milngavie.

Having seen an article in The Herald on 30th December 2004 which reported that it was the Home Office who issued the Directive which required the fence to be constructed, I tabled a Parliamentary question to the Home Office. I received the following answer on 24th February 2010:

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent (a) discussions and (b) correspondence he has had with (i) Ministers in the Scottish Executive and (ii) representatives of Scottish Water on the public security issues concerning the erection of fences around Milngavie reservoir; what security threat the fences are intended to address; what recent assessment he has made of the requirement for such security fencing; and if he will make a statement. [315445]

Mr. Hanson: There have been no recent discussions or correspondence between Home Office Ministers and Scottish Ministers or representatives of Scottish Water on public security issues concerning the erection of fences around Milngavie reservoir. In line with our long-standing policy, we do not comment on matters of national security.

However, on 8th January 2010, the Milngavie and Bearsden Herald reported that Scottish Water had received permission from the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure (CPNI) to take the fences down but that “protective measures” must be put in place for the removal of the fences. As the Home Office has ultimate responsibility for national security I would have expected Home Office officials to be aware of this, however it is possible that it was overlooked or could not be revealed in a Parliamentary answer. I wrote to to the CPNI on 26th February to ask what protective measures are now needed, and to find out the reason for the delay in these being implemented and the fences being removed. I have not yet received a response to that letter.

Scottish Water have recently been in touch with me to say that they have reached an agreement with the relevant Government security advisers on what protective measures need to be put in place. Both Scottish Water and Scottish Infrastructure Minister Stewart Stevenson have told me that now that this agreement has been reached, they will be seeking a new Directive from the Home Office instructing these changes to be made, in order that the fences can be removed.

I would appreciate it if you would progress this matter as quickly as possible, as I’m sure you will appreciate it is an issue of great concern to many people in Milngavie, who would be very pleased to see the fences removed in the near future. If you would keep me updated of any progress then I would greatly appreciate it.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Swinson MP

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