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.”

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#MuckyMerton's shock flytipping figures

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

Since 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.

Agreed street cleaning standards are not being met and no one is holding Veolia to account.

Even worse, from late next year, Veolia will be in charge of collecting our recycling one week, and our normal waste the next, with each household forced to take two wheelie bins.

Local campaigner and lawyer John Tippett-Cooper said:

“We don’t like the contract with Veolia: Labour are clearly rubbish on rubbish. But we should use it to force Veolia to improve their service, reduce litter across the borough AND give people flexibility over their rubbish collections.”


NHS in crisis

AF__CQ__SMG_Nelson.jpgConservative cuts leave hospitals full, and patients waiting for treatment.  Patients face cancelled operations and long delays at A&E as the NHS struggles through another winter crisis.

In the last six weeks of 2017, 825 ambulances were forced to wait outside Kingston, St George's, and St Helier & Epsom hospitals for at least 30 minutes - many over an hour. Hospital beds at Kingston and St George's hospitals were nearly full for most of late November and December.

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Christmas in Merton


A quick look at what's happening around the borough over the Christmas and New Year period.

Recycling and rubbish collection dates

If, like many people, you generate more rubbish and recycling than usual over holiday periods, when there’s wrapping paper and boxes to dispose of, we have been told that the Council is operating their “collect all” policy this year. This means that as long as rubbish/recycling is gathered in suitable containers and does not create a nuisance to others, it will be collected.

Christmas travel

Local shops and other information

Fair pay for care workers - the London Living Wage

MJ_discussing_with_resident.JPGCare workers play a vital role - not only in the safety and dignity of the people they care for, but also in their independence; we should value that work.

At the Council meeting yesterday, Lib Dem cllr Mary-Janes Jeanes proposed fair pay for care workers – the London Living Wage and better sick pay – which Labour Council bosses voted down and blocked.

Local Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for investment in our local health and care services.

Cllr Jeanes' speech is below.

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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
www.mertonlibdems.org.uk : @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 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.

  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 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.

Yours ever

Paul Kohler
Kings Road,
SW19 8PL

On behalf of Merton Liberal Democrats

Cutting local air pollution vital for children's health

New research confirms that a number schools in Merton are less than 150m away from roads with dangerously high levels of pollution.Campaigning on missing air monitors in 2009
Children’s health could be seriously affected, according to the research by ClientEarth – an environmental charity that successfully brought a legal action against the Government for breaking clean air laws.
Studies have shown that the health of children living within 150m of illegally polluted roads can be affected by traffic-related air pollution.
“The evidence shows that air pollution has links to various health conditions and shorter life expectancy,” said local parent and campaigner Anthony Fairclough.
“Cutting air pollution isn’t just an environmental issue: it’s vital for people’s health. Even more worrying is that this research only looked at schools – I have a toddler – there are numerous nurseries, playschools and playgrounds near these roads too.”

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Merton overcharging 'severely mentally impaired' people?

Merton Council may be overcharging hundreds of people by failing to apply a Council Tax discount to potentially vulnerable individuals.

Under national rules those with “severe mental impairment” (SMI) and living alone are exempt from Council Tax, whilst those living with one other person qualify for a 25% discount. A Money Saving Expert report recently estimated that around 0.9% of households nationally should qualify for the SMI discounts, but Merton Lib Dems have revealed that only 0.3% of Merton households are currently claiming.
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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 (www.SaveWimbledonPoliceStation.org.uk) is around 2000 strong - paper and online copies combined - and still rising.

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