"Despite a successful judicial review by Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Kohler in 2018, the long-term future of Wimbledon Police Station is still unclear beyond 2023.
"It is not right that one police station receives special treatment. The Mayor hasn’t adequately explained the basis for saving Uxbridge Police Station but not Wimbledon."
Local people have been left shocked by the refusal of Labour Council bosses to commit to saving local police stations.
Wimbledon Police Station’s future is back in the balance following the publication of the Mayor of London’s Police & Crime Plan on 24 March.
The plan reiterates the Mayor’s intention to further reduce the number of police stations in London, and despite representations from Merton Liberal Democrats, makes no commitment to retain Wimbledon Police Station in the long term.
Wimbledon Police Station was saved from a planned closure in 2018 by local Liberal Democrat councillor and parliamentary candidate Paul Kohler, who successfully took the Mayor to court to challenge the decision.
Following our successful Judicial Review, Wimbledon Police Station's future is currently guaranteed until 2023; but not beyond. We have raised its long-term future, on a number of occasions, with our excellent Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Lis Chapple, who is completely supportive but has emphasised the final decision is up to the Mayor of London. We have also raised it with him directly, on more than one occasion, via Lib Dem Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon.
Unfortunately, both the Mayor and his Deputy, who runs the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), have repeatedly refused to give any commitments beyond next year. To add to our concerns, the latest draft of the Mayor's new Police & Crime Plan, includes proposals to further reduce the Met's estate, with obvious potential implications for the future of Wimbledon Police Station.
We provided a submission, which emphasises why police stations are critical to achieving the Mayor's policing priorities.
Whilst Cllr Paul Kohler's court case forced the Mayor of London to reverse his initial decision, the reality is that we’ve only guaranteed Wimbledon police station's future until 2022 and we need to keep fighting.
The Daily Mail on 1st March 2021 leads with the story that half of British police stations have closed over the last 10 years. Merton Lib Dem Cllr Paul Kohler is quoted in the article which can be read on the Daily Mail website.
Two years ago, Cllr Paul Kohler won his court case to stop the Mayor of London closing Wimbledon Police Station.
Today he has some further good news. Paul said:
"I was contacted by the BCU commander Sally Benatar today and told that Wimbledon Police Station has been chosen as the site for a combined emergency response unit covering Merton & Wandsworth.
"This is brilliant news following the success of our legal action to prevent the station’s closure.
"And whilst it doesn’t guarantee the station’s long term future it is another positive sign that the operational arguments we have pursued for last 3 years are winning through. It also means Wimbledon’s 24 hour front desk, which was only saved because of our legal action, remains open."
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.
Yesterday evening (Wednesday 29 January 2020) Labour's Leonie Cooper, the London Assembly Member (LAM) for Merton & Wandsworth, stated "[t]here is no plan to close Wimbledon Police Station" and went on to suggest its long term future is now secure.
She made the comments during her annual report to the Wimbledon Community Forum when she was discussing the Mayor of London's answers to questions submitted by members of the London Assembly.
A funding proposal to put two more police officers on Merton’s streets for the next 3 years has been rejected by Labour councillors.
The Mayor of London has admitted that police response times have fallen dramatically across Merton following the merger of its police teams with those in neighbouring boroughs.
In figures supplied to Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Kohler late last year, in the 4 months before the merger, response times across Merton for the most serious 999 calls averaged 9 minutes 30 seconds. In the four months after the merger this deteriorated by over 50% to an average of 15 minutes 15 seconds. Calls in this category require response within 15 minutes.
Merton Lib Dem Councillor Paul Kohler has given the Mayor of London 14 days to agree to reconsult on the closure of Wimbledon Police Station before launching further legal action in his bid to preserve a police presence in Wimbledon.
The ultimatum was issued following a response from the Mayor's office indicating they were not intending to re-consult prior to making a fresh decision on whether to close Wimbledon Police Station.
The Mayor's original decision to close Wimbledon Police station was quashed by the High Court this summer following legal action brought by Cllr Kohler.
The High Court has today quashed the decision by the London Mayor to close Wimbledon police station in a ruling that was critical of his entire consultation into the closing of 37 police stations across the capital.
In today’s judgment, Lord Justice Lindblom and Mr Justice Lewis stated that:
“The consultation process in this case was not conducted well. Both the content and the structure of the consultation document were unsatisfactory. It was markedly less helpful than such documents should be if they are to achieve their purpose in informing a decision on a matter of great significance for a large number of people – here the entire population of the metropolis. ...... "
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.
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.
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.
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.
An open letter from Paul Kohler to Merton's Labour and Conservative Parties, suggesting a joint initiative to save Wimbledon Police Station.
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.
"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."
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.
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.