An update on the Mayor's plan to close half of London's police stations, including Wimbledon - from local campaigner Paul Kohler:
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.
On behalf of the Merton Liberal Democrats Focus teams
www.mertonlibdems.org.uk : @mertonlibdems
More info, and what next?
- 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.
- 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.
- Ask anyone who hasn't already to sign our petition www.SaveWimbledonPoliceStation.org.uk – ours is the only petition that recognises that Government funding is as big of an issue as decisions by the Mayor.
- 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.
PS 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.
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 www.SaveWimbledonPoliceStation.org.uk
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.
On behalf of Merton Liberal Democrats
Merton 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 (www.SaveWimbledonPoliceStation.org.uk) is around 2000 strong - paper and online copies combined - and still rising.Read more
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
Fight to save Ridgway Stables only just beginning, local community vows
As Ridgway Stables officially closes its doors today (28 September) local community campaigners have vowed that the fight to save the stables 'is only just beginning'.
Ridgway Stables is closing after almost a century, following a decision by the landlords to evict the tenants.
Ridgway Stables has long been a fixture of the Wimbledon Village community, offering affordable and accessible riding lessons for children across Wimbledon.
Stables manager Julia Hardy, who has run the business for 37 years, has devoted her career to making riding accessible to all, especially underprivileged young people in the local area. As well as offering lessons, the stables runs a number of programmes to widen participation in the sport, in partnership with Merton Council, Camp Beaumont and several local schools.Read more
Residents have been shocked by London Mayor Sadiq Khan's plans 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. The police station on Queens Road is currently home to the only 24/7 police "front desk" in the borough.
This latest move comes on the back of over £600 million worth of cuts to London's police services by Conservatives in Government since 2010. This has seen front-line services in Wimbledon, and across the capital, stretched to the limit.
After seeing the plans, Carl Quilliam, Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesman for Wimbledon, said:
"The London Mayor's plan to shut down Wimbledon Police Station is totally unacceptable. Funding for local police services has been consistently cut by administration after administration, while residents in Wimbledon are being put at risk.
"The station promotes visible community policing and makes reporting crime easier.
"The Lib Dems will lead the fight to protect our vital local police and public services from the savage cuts of a Tory Government in Westminster and Labour's London Mayor."
Rights of people living/working in the UK who happen to be EU nationals
The Government has recently announced that all 3 million EU citizens resident in Britain will have to apply for inclusion on a “settled status” register if they want to stay in the country after Brexit.
Those living in the UK for at least five years will have two years to apply for “settled status”. Any EU citizens who arrived before the cut-off point will be given “blanket permission” to stay for around 2 years, and then will be able to gain “settled status” when they’ve been here for 5 years in total. During that two year “blanket permission” period, they will need to apply for a temporary residence document from the Home Office, and then again for "settled status" when they've been here for 5 years.
We say: this offers little in the way of reassurance to EU citizens who have made Britain their home, and continues to use them as bargaining chips. It also risks the rights of Brits abroad.Read more
Local Liberal Democrats are backing Geoff Cooper in the St Helier Ward by-election on 20 July.
The by-election was called after the resignation of a Labour councillor who is under investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority due to "suspicion of dishonesty".Read more
Across the country the Lib Dems went forward, increasing their number of MPs to 12. In South West London the Lib Dems returned 3 MPs, including Vince Cable who is expected to take up the role of party leader over the Summer.
Lib Dems also narrowly lost out on returning by-election winner Sarah Olney to parliament in Richmond Park, with just 45 votes in it.
Locally, in Wimbledon the Lib Dems, Carl Quilliam increased the total number of votes and the overall percentage, securing double the Lib Dems’ national vote share and achieving one of the best results for the party in London.
In Mitcham & Morden, the total number of votes and the vote share were up, with Claire Mathys, the party's candidate moving up to 3rd.Read more
Lib Dems campaign to scrap dementia tax which would hit 98% of homes in Merton
98% of homes in Merton could be eligible for sale to meet Theresa May’s so-called 'dementia tax', research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.
Responding to Theresa May's announcement today on social care, in which she said "nothing has changed," Lib Dem parliamentary candidates Carl Quilliam and Claire Mathys have urged Merton residents, irrespective of their party affiliation, to join a campaign to stop the Conservative social care plans which would saddle those with long-term illnesses with crippling care costs after their death.
The Liberal Democrats are calling for a penny on income tax to boost funding for the NHS and social care by £6bn a year, as well as a £72,000 cap to protect people from crippling care costs. In contrast, the Tories have lived up to Theresa May's own description of themselves, as the "nasty party", by cynically refusing to reveal the level of any cap they might introduce until after the election.Read more