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.
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. At the last council meeting, local parent John Tippett Cooper asked them to look into such a scheme, but Labour Council bosses refused. They insisted that there were no issues with things like nappies being collected fortnightly.
After the meeting, John said “The Council’s response on this issue shows how out of touch they are. They need to start listening to residents instead of pushing forward with their plans without proper consultation.”
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.
Liberal Democrats back legal challenge against the closure of over half of London’s police stations.
On 25 January, 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.”
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.”
Conservative 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.
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.
Local shops and other information
Care 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.
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.