Lib Dems call for 'Schools bonus'

2018_AF_schools2.jpgGovernment cuts have taken their toll on the money local schools have to repair and decorate their classrooms and buildings.

Local Lib Dems have proposed a new "schools bonus", requiring developers to pay an amount into a special fund when they get planning permission. This can then be used by schools to maintain and improve their infrastructure.  

Merton Council is currently looking at putting in place new planning rules so it's a good time to suggest new ideas, but Labour and Conservative councillors don't seem to have any.

Local campaigner and parent Anthony Fairclough said:

"Our local area desperately needs some new ideas and a fresh start. I'm so pleased to back this schools bonus - a great idea to give back to the community. Everyone deserves the best start in life and a top quality education.  Ideas like this would help teachers provide a great environment for learning".

‘One size fits all’ is not good enough on policing

Police_Station_Image.pngYesterday, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced dramatic and damaging changes to local policing for Merton and London.

The changes would replace the Met’s current 32 borough model, by merging local policing across boroughs.

As part of the changes, Merton police will come together with Wandsworth, Kingston and Richmond to form 1 of 12 Basic Command Units (BCU).

BCUs will be expected to deliver frontline police services including neighbourhood policing, emergency response, CID and safeguarding. Each will be led by a chief superintendent who will be the BCU Commander. This move comes as the Met is being forced by the Tory Government to make further savings of £325m by 2021/2022 in addition to the £700m in cuts they have already suffered under the Conservatives.

Lib Dem campaigner & Wimbledon resident Paul Kohler is already bringing a court case to stop the closure of Wimbledon police station and 36 others across London. Reacting to the news, he said:

''The Conservatives’ decision to cut the police budget means London has lost 2000 officers since 2016, with another 2,500 expected to be lost over the next few years. That means that across Merton we will have lost some 15% of police officers during Sadiq Khan's tenure as Mayor of London.

"Sadiq Khan cannot simply hide behind these foolish and dangerous Tory cuts. He needs to fight harder for the needs of Londoners and embrace a more imaginative approach that maintains police in the heart of our communities, rather than making them increasingly remote".

"Merton residents will be shocked by these proposals that will inevitably suck away key resources from Wimbledon, with its historic low levels of crime.

"Wimbledon is about to be hit by a triple whammy losing its police station, its borough commander and many of its officers. We currently live in one of the safest boroughs in London but crime is already beginning to rise and these dangerous cuts will simply exacerbate that problem."
Read more

Shock flytipping figures & action on weekly waste collections

1. Everyone knows that Merton Council is failing to keep the streets clean.

Since last April, a new company - Veolia - has been responsible for cleaning our streets and collecting our rubbish.

Recent figures obtained by the local Lib Dems have revealed a shocking complacency. 4,792 instances of flytipping were reported to Labour Council bosses between January and September 2017, and yet only 18 fines were issued. For full details of Merton's shock flytipping figures, click here.


2. Whilst Merton’s litter problem is getting worse, residents are concerned about plans to bring in fortnightly waste collection.

The local Lib Dem team have been calling for the Council to commit to maintaining a weekly collection for hygiene waste such as nappies. For full details of our call for action on weekly waste collections, click here.

Keep Raynes Park Little League football free petition


The petition launched by the local Lib Dems to keep children's football league free, has had a massive response from parents and residents.

Voluntary organisation Raynes Park Little League has played on Sir Joseph Hood Memorial playing fields for more than fifty years, but now they could have to fork out in excess of £4,000 per year, owing to Merton Council's contract with private company Id Verde which is proposing the changes.

Read more

Police station closures - legal case launched

Liberal Democrats back legal challenge against the closure of over half of London’s police stations.

On 25 Police_petition.jpgJanuary, Wimbledon resident Paul Kohler, formally launched a legal challenge to the London Mayor’s plans to close 37 police stations across the capital.

The legal challenge is seeking permission to take the decision to close more than half of the current police stations in London to Judicial Review. Lawyers acting on half of Mr Kohler have argued that the public consultation and consequent decision were legally flawed and unlawful.

Mr Kohler, who was subjected to a vicious attack in his home in 2014, believes he only survived because police officers were able to get to his house from the local station in Wimbledon, one of the 37 police stations under threat of closure.

Commenting, Paul Kohler, a SOAS University academic said:

“The Mayor’s plan to remove police stations from the heart of many communities is a short-sighted and unimaginative response to the funding crisis caused by the Government’s equally misguided decision to slash the Metropolitan Police budget.”

Read more

Christmas in Merton

Christmas_Wimbledon.jpgA quick look at what's happening in and around the borough over the festive period.

Recycling and rubbish collection dates

Christmas travel

Local events

Free Christmas parking

Parking will be free in Council-managed car parks in Mitcham, Morden and Wimbledon on a number of weekends. See here for full information.

Local shops and other information

London Mayor seeks to close Wimbledon Police Station

An update on the Mayor's plan to close half of London's police stations, including Wimbledon - from local campaigner Paul Kohler:Paul Kohler speaking about the threat to Wimbledon Police Station on ITV News


Sadly, yesterday London's Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed his decision to close Wimbledon Police Station. This was despite him stating that he "share[s] some of the very legitimate concerns" that were expressed during the recent consultation, and that he had "listened very carefully to the feedback"(!)

People have been completely let down by both Labour and Conservative politicians on this issue, with the Government's inexplicable decision to cut the Metropolitan Police budget by over £1 billion, compounded by the Mayor's unimaginative, and partisan, response to the funding shortfall.

The same is true at a local level with both Wimbledon's Conservative MP and the Labour leader of Merton Council ignoring our proposal for a joint, cross-party initiative to save Wimbledon Police Station. Meeting together, with both the Home Secretary and the Mayor, we would create a powerful statement that would be in the best interests of the people of Merton.

But for the bravery and speedy response of the local police when I was attacked in my home in 2014 I might well have died. Yet Labour and Conservative politicians won't work with me to help fight for our police station.

We need a fresh start for our area. I believe that backing the Liberal Democrats at the Council elections next May is the only way of ensuring our voices are heard on this, and many other issues.

Yours ever,

Paul Kohler

On behalf of the Merton Liberal Democrats Focus teams : @mertonlibdems

More info, and what next?

  1. You can read what we learned about the reasons for the decision at the public consultation meeting on 26 September, here. Merton’s Borough police commander admitted that Wimbledon probably needed a significant police base.

  2. Our response to the formal consultation is here. In short, we think the planned closure represents a short sighted and unimaginative response to the problem, which underestimates our police station’s practical and symbolic role at the heart of our community.

  3. Ask anyone who hasn't already to sign our petition – ours is the only petition that recognises that Government funding is as big of an issue as decisions by the Mayor.

  4. Help the Save Wimbledon Police Station campaign by displaying a poster or delivering some leaflets near you: sign up for a poster or leaflets here.

we want to make this campaign as big as it can possibly be. But we can only do that with your help - you can donate to Save Wimbledon Police Station by clicking here. For every £10 donated we can print leaflets for one more street, to put pressure on politicians to work together to fight for the police station.

Wimbledon Police Station - open letter to Labour & the Conservatives

An open letter from Paul Kohler to Merton's Labour and Conservative Parties, suggesting a joint initiative to save Wimbledon Police Station. You can still sign our petition at

20 October 2017

Dear Mr Hammond and Cllr Alambritis,

I was pleased to see the intervention in the pages of the Wimbledon Guardian, of both the local Conservative (28 September) and Labour parties (19 October), in the campaign to save Wimbledon Police Station.

I am consequently writing an open letter to you both, on behalf of Merton Lib Dems, as the most senior representatives of each of your parties in our community, to suggest that our three parties work together on this issue.

Despite our political differences, it is self evident that the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Labour are united in our desire to retain Wimbledon Police station. I am therefore proposing that, in this particular instance, we put our, substantial and important, disagreements on other issues to one side for the good of our community.

It is clear, from talking to supporters of both your parties, that they would welcome an approach that transcends party politics, by us working together on behalf of our borough and the constituency. It is also apparent that the proposal to close Wimbledon Police Station results, to some degree, from both the Government’s decision to cut the Metropolitan Police budget and the Mayor’s response to the funding shortfall. Whilst it is easy to simply condemn the Government and/or Mayoralty in this way, the approach of neither is yet set in stone. The police station has not yet closed and thus an
opportunity still exists for more investment to be found by the Chancellor in the upcoming budget and for Sadiq Khan to explore alternatives to wholesale closure.

At the moment, Mr Hammond, your members are concentrating their fire on the Labour Mayor, whilst your party, Cllr Alambritis, is doing likewise regarding the Conservative Home Secretary. Ironically, of course, you would each be more effective if, rather than attacking your political opponents, you spoke directly to those within your own party who are, at least partly, responsible for the proposed closure.

Mr Hammond, as Wimbledon's MP, could you not lead a delegation of all three parties to a meeting with the Conservative  Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, to persuade her to reverse the cuts in police funding, with you, Cllr Alambritis, as leader of our Council, taking that same delegation to City Hall to propose that the Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, adopt a different response to the funding shortfall? With all three parties working together in this way, we would create a powerful statement that would be in the best interests of the people of Merton.

It is all too easy to continue scoring petty party points off one another but please let us work together to retain our police station. Surely our community deserves something more from its local representatives than counter-productive bickering; particularly as we will have a far greater chance of success if we work together in this endeavour.

I consequently urge you, both, to join with us in this approach and additionally agree a joint letter, to be sent to both the Home Secretary and the Mayor of London, from all three of our parties, in which we set out why Wimbledon Police Station should be saved.

Yours ever

Paul Kohler
Kings Road,
SW19 8PL

On behalf of Merton Liberal Democrats

Wimbledon police station closure - Merton Lib Dem consultation response

Wimbledon police station petition handed in to London's MayorMerton Liberal Democrats' submission to the Met police consultation regarding the proposed closure of Wimbledon Police station.

"Whilst we recognise that the Mayor of London is not responsible for the Conservative Government’s decision to withdraw some £1 billion of funding from the Metropolitan Police budget, we believe his current proposal to close Wimbledon Police Station to help address this shortfall to be absolutely wrong. It is our firm view that the planned closure represents a short sighted and unimaginative response to the problem, which underestimates our police station’s practical and symbolic role at the heart of our community."

Our petition ( is around 2000 strong - paper and online copies combined - and still rising.

Read more

Wimbledon police station consultation meeting

Wimbledon resident and local campaigner Paul Kohler gives a summary of the public meeting on Tuesday 26 September:


"I just wanted to write to you with some info from tonight’s public meeting about the plans from the Mayor of London to close Wimbledon Police Station.

Under the proposals around half London's police stations - including Wimbledon's - would be shut down and the land sold off. This would mean there was no 24 hour base for police in Wimbledon town centre.

Tonight there was a consultation on “public access to the police”, held in Wimbledon Chase Primary School.

Read more