A former South Ayrshire Council leader has raised concerns that ‘everything is going to Kilmarnock’ after hearing about emergency service plans for Ayr.

Both Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue representatives joined a meeting of the council’s Partnerships Panel to discuss performance and future plans on Wednesday.

And both were quizzed about ‘disappointing’ moves that will see Ayr lose a high reach fire appliance and police custody cells.

Councillor Hugh Hunter, was the first to raise concerns over the fire service’s decision to locate just one high reach vehicle in Ayrshire, at Kilmarnock.

He said that ‘in some respects’ he understood the situation, but that ‘subjectively it is really disappointing.

Cllr Hunter asked Area Commander Ian Area Commander Ian McMeekin for assurances about the future of Ayr Fire Station, adding: “I’ve seen it in other services, where everything is going to Kilmarnock.”

The Area Commander said that stations like Ayr were built in a different era and that the changing population and increase in technology meant that the service had to review its approach to give the best service.

Part of this, he explained, was the reduction in high reach appliances, including non–dedicated vehicles with added equipment, across Scotland from 25 to 14.

Cllr Hunter asked what the immediate impact of the change would be on Ayr.

Mr McMeeken said that there would be no reduction as the move had been based on the demand that was being placed on the service.

He added that high reach appliances were only one part of a potential response and that new technology, such as an ‘ultra high pressure lance’ that has been introduced in Troon, was part of the changes they were making.

He later told us: “There will be no reduction in fire cover at Ayr as a dedicated replacement fire appliance will be located within the town to ensure we continue to offer the same level of protection.

“The removal of Ayr Fire Station’s combined aerial rescue pump is part of a review of the Service’s height appliance vehicles across Scotland which has looked at operational demand to ensure all communities have a balance of the right types of vehicles.

“The number of appliances mobilised to any incident across the area will not change. We remain committed to investing in new technologies to benefit our crews in Ayrshire and beyond.”

Councillor Hunter asked for more detail about potential technology, such as drones, to attend fires.

Mr McMeekin said that the service was looking at other technologies and said that drones were already being used to deal with incidents such as moorland fires.

The Partnership Panel also heard from Superintendent Derek Frew of Police Scotland.

During the discussion, Supt Frew gave an update on the move from Ayr Police Station to Newton House, telling councillors that there would only be two custody cells across the whole of Ayrshire, at Kilmarnock and Saltcoats.

He said that the Ayr cells have not been utilised on a day to day basis. Instead, he explained, they would be used during big events, such as the Ayr Gold Cup.

Councillor Hunter then asked whether there would be an impact on South Ayrshire police where they have to take someone to Kilmarnock or Saltcoats.

Supt Frew replied that in those instances officers from another part of Ayrshire would be expected to replace them temporarily to maintain coverage in the area.

He added that the move to Newton House was a temporary one and that there could be an opportunity for Ayr to replace Kilmarnock or Saltcoats when a new facility is considered.

As with the report on Ayr Fire Station, the panel noted their concerns about the move.