Time to give Wimbledon “peace of mind” over police station, Mayor told
Two years after it was saved from closure by a court case, local Liberal Democrat councillors are looking to force the Mayor of London to admit defeat and confirm that Wimbledon Police Station is safe.
The councillors – including Wimbledon Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesperson Paul Kohler, who led the successful court case blocking the Mayor’s plans to close Wimbledon Police Station back in 2018 – are presenting a motion at today’s (Wednesday 5 February) Merton Council meeting which, if voted through, would require the Council to write to the Mayor formally asking him to confirm that the police station will not be sold, and that its long term future is now secure.
In the nearly two years since Cllr Kohler’s decisive court case the Mayor has made no further attempt to try and close Wimbledon Police Station, and Labour London Assembly Member for Merton & Wandsworth Leonie Cooper suggested as recently as 29 January that “there is no plan to close Wimbledon Police Station”. Nevertheless, the Mayor has refused up until now to give a formal confirmation of the station’s future.
“Though we were successful in saving Wimbledon Police Station from closure back in 2018”, said Cllr Kohler, “local residents and police have spent the past two years living under a cloud of uncertainty over the station’s long term future. It’s time for the Mayor to give them the peace of mind they deserve, and publicly guarantee that our police station is safe.”
Wimbledon Police Station was originally earmarked for closure by the Mayor in 2017, following Conservative Government cuts to the Metropolitan Police’s budget. However a judicial review led by Cllr Kohler, and crowdfunded by local residents, saw the closure blocked by the High Court.
While 36 other police stations across London were sold off, mothballed or closed to the public, Wimbledon Police Station was spared thanks to Cllr Kohler’s court case. The successful legal action also gave local police chiefs the time they needed to conduct a review of local police stations, which raised the fresh possibility that Wimbledon Police Station could be retained in the long term.
“Local Conservatives have repeatedly attempted to talk down the importance of the court case in saving our police station”, said Cllr Kohler, “but the facts speak for themselves. 36 other police stations across London have closed their doors to members of the public hoping to report crimes. By taking the Mayor of London to court we ensured Wimbledon Police Station didn’t become one of them.”
“The reprieve our court case earned also gave crucial time for the incoming Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Sally Benatar, to review local police resources and make a recommendation that Wimbledon Police Station should in fact be retained.”
Cllr Kohler and his fellow Lib Dem councillors are hoping to force the Mayor’s hand and get official confirmation that Wimbledon Police Station has been saved for good.
“I myself would not be here today if it hadn’t been for the speedy response of officers from Wimbledon Police Station after I was attacked in my own home. It’s clear that there are no longer any plans to close the station, so I implore the Mayor to give us all the peace of mind we deserve by guaranteeing our police station’s future.”