Policing in Merton is about to be hit by a triple whammy: we could be losing Wimbledon Police Station, our borough commander and at least 15% of Merton's police officers.
Councillor Paul Kohler is taking the Mayor to court to overturn his decision to close Wimbledon Police station, and last week he submitted a motion to Merton Council calling for a cross party working group to be established to urgently consider all aspects of policing in the borough. Whatever the outcome of the legal case, the working group would have provided a critical opportunity to determine how the borough is going to address the various threats currently confronting policing in Merton.
Unfortunately neither Labour nor the Conservatives supported the motion. Both argued that the Council’s existing mechanisms are sufficient, even though the borough has been unable to prevent any of the cuts in policing that have occurred so far.
Speaking after the Council meeting Cllr Paul Kohler said:
"I am at a loss to understand how both the governing Labour party and the official Tory opposition can be so complacent, particularly on such an important issue as crime and safety in the borough.
The council has to start taking law and order seriously, yet nether Labour, nor the Conservatives, show any genuine interest or concern. Time for a fresh start on policing in Merton. "
Last year Merton Council announced plans to charge local Little League football groups up to £4,000 a year to play in public parks. Liberal Democrats have been campaigning against the charges, and this week they took the campaign to "keep Little League free" to the Council Chamber.
Councillors Eloise Bailey, Hina Bokhari and Carl Quilliam presented a petition, signed by over 1539 concerned residents, and proposed a plan to allow Little League to continue to use our parks for free.
There was strong support in the public gallery, with Little League players, parents and volunteers attending the meeting to show their support for the motion.
Unfortunately Conservative and Labour councillors refused to play ball. The Conservatives claimed to support the motion in their speeches, but this support rang hollow when they put forward a wrecking amendment, perhaps unsurprising given that they had themselves proposed to increase Council fees and charges earlier this year as part of their budget plans.
Meanwhile the Labour councillor leading on Community and Culture argued strongly for the charges, despite the Labour Leader of the Council's public promise, just months ago that there would be no charges at all. All Labour councillors at the meeting backed imposing charges.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hina Bokhari said:
"We won’t be giving up. I truly believe that Merton could make this dream come true, and just as the nation is swept up in the belief and hope of the World Cup, we can work to keep Merton a place where families and children can use our parks for free and allow our community led charities to keep providing such wonderful services."
Local Lib Dems have revealed shock new figures showing that around 4000 workers at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships won't receive the London Living Wage.
Cllr Carl Quilliam, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem group on Merton Council where the tournament is held, has slammed the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) for not ensuring that contractors receive this wage, despite the Club stating they support the London Living Wage.
The London Living Wage is calculated to ensure workers can cover the cost of living in London and are not forced into poverty.
New figures uncovered by the local Lib Dem’s show that only 1000 workers for the tournament receive a full London living wage, while 4000 contracted-out workers are left to struggle on the legal minimum.
After a fantastic election night (and years of tireless campaigning), local Lib Dems are celebrating the election of 6 incredible new councillors, representing West Barnes, Dundonald and Trinity Wards. The largest group of Liberal Democrats elected to Merton Council.
We want to thank everyone across Merton who gave their support to the Lib Dems on Thursday 3 May.
Your Lib Dem council team - consisting of Eloise Bailey, Hina Bokhari and Carl Quilliam in West Barnes; Anthony Fairclough and Simon McGrath in Dundonald; and Paul Kohler in Trinity - will be working hard to repay the support shown to us by being a strong voice for all Merton residents.
We will always seek to do our best for you and work hard with the rest of the local Liberal Democrat team to deliver on our pledges. Please do get in touch if you have questions, comments, thoughts or anything we can assist with. We'd love to hear from you.
The Council now comprises 34 Labour councillors, 17 Conservatives, 6 Liberal Democrats and 3 residents association councillors. The Labour Party will continue to run the Council.
Together, we can achieve a #FreshStart4Merton!
Did you see the Evening Standard's take on Paul Kohler’s court case to stop the Mayor closing over half of London’s police stations?
The legal action has ensured that no police stations will be sold before the case is resolved.
Paul has done a great job, with the help of many people from across London who are 'crowdfunding' the legal fees. If you are able to contribute to the ongoing costs of the case you can do so here.
We local Lib Dems are proud to have backed the case - Paul is also one of the Lib Dem-backed candidates for Trinity ward at the elections in a few weeks.
We know that any plan to maintain a police station in Wimbledon will require our legal challenge to succeed as otherwise the Mayor's decision to close the station will stand. This is why we offered to work with Labour and the Conservatives when we began this battle back in late 2017.
Only the local Lib Dems along with local campaigner Paul Kohler are taking real practical action to save our police station. At the local elections on 3rd May please back our campaign by voting for your local Lib Dem team to ensure we will retain a real say on the future of policing in our area.
We want a Council that acts in the interests of all residents in the decisions it takes.
We want an honest and open conversation with people about what’s going on locally.
We're calling for a fresh start for Merton on health, housing, our environment - and more.
The Lib Dem team will stand up for you on the big issues - against cuts to local police and to save Wimbledon Police Station, for investment in our local NHS and care services, fairer funding for our schools and more affordable homes.
We are also working hard for our area on the specific things that make a real difference: making local stations "step-free", pushing the Council to keep on top of litter, flytipping and graffiti, and fighting to ensure that residents are listened to.
Read our 2018 local election manifesto
Merton Liberal Democrats have backed 60 candidates to bring a fresh start to our area. This is the most candidates the party has ever fielded.
You will get 3 votes on Thursday 3rd May and each ward elects 3 councillors. To find out which ward you live in, see here.
Liberal Democrat-backed candidates are as follows:
Government 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".
Yesterday, 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."
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.