The ‘West End Extra’ reports on the Mayor’s decision to close three police stations in north Westminster;
“THE Mayor of London has given the green light for the closure of three police station desks in north Westminster.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) confirmed this week that they will axe front counters at Harrow Road, St John’s Wood and Marylebone stations after months of speculation over a £500million cut to the Met’s budget.
Front counters at Paddington Green and Belgravia station will also stop running a 24-hour service and will only be open 40 hours a week.
Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North, reacted to the decision by accusing Mayor Boris Johnson of “abandoning” the north of the borough and showing a “blatant disregard for the community”.
MOPAC said they would consider “low-cost” contact points for “non-urgent, face-to-face contact” that are open three times a week for one hour, which could be located in the Beethoven Centre in Queen’s Park, and St John’s Wood library in Circus Road.
The plans were initially released in January as part of a review of the Met’s real estate across London and were followed by a three-month period of consultation to allow the public time to voice their opinion on the closures.
But the feedback process was branded a “sham” by some MPs and City Hall politicians who said Londoners were not provided with enough information about what would replace the closed stations.
A public meeting held in February at Regent Hall in Oxford Street heard from disgruntled Westminster residents who were concerned about the proposed closures.
Stephen Greenhalgh, the Mayor’s deputy for policing and crime, presented plans that included suggestions that police contact points would be installed in post offices.
Speaking at a meeting last month, Councillor Adam Hug said: “It’s really worrying that we don’t have information about the types of alternative properties, in terms of the front counters and also the types of buildings it will be, as part of this consultation.”
Ms Buck told the West End Extra this week: “I am shocked by the blatant disregard for the community in North Westminster. The Mayor has broken his pledge and residents in the north have been abandoned.”
Westminster Council has raised concerns about plans to close Greycoat fire station in Victoria, as the London Fire Brigade also look to make £45m of savings, but have said little about the closure of police station front counters in the north of the borough.
Leader Philippa Roe said councillors were scrutinising the data on both police station and fire station closures, rather than making an “emotional response”. She added: “We don’t actually have that granularity of data yet to make a sensible judgement on it.
“We have been concerned both on the police stations and the fire stations to make sure that it doesn’t impact negatively on our residents and we have a task group working under our policy and scrutiny committee which is looking very sensibly at the data and response times. If all the things they are saying about these temporary drop-in counters and the nature of these things that are normally reported at one of the counters in police stations are accurate, then maybe that’s sufficient.”