Labour Group demand police "come clean" over police station closure
7:00am Saturday 8th September 2012 in News
The Wandsworth Labour group has demanded police “come clean” over the potential closure of Battersea’s Lavender Hill police station.
A London Assembly document featuring a response from Mayor of London Boris Johnson showed a number of the capital’s stations have been approved for closure or disposal – including Lavender Hill plus buildings in Richmond and South Norwood.
Lavender Hill was at the centre of last summer’s riots when police were severely criticised for abandoning residents and business owners as looters descended on Clapham Junction.
Councillor Leonie Cooper, Wandsworth Labour spokesman for community safety, said: “The Metropolitan Police (MPS) need to come clean on which stations they are planning to sell off, and engage in a full consultation with the community before any decisions are taken.
"Labour councillors wholeheartedly disagree with any plans to close Lavender Hill police station, which is just metres away from one of the areas worst affected by last summer’s riots.
“Wandsworth Council now needs to show some leadership on this issue – helping to protect our local police stations and standing up for the residents of the borough.”
When the Labour Group originally announced the proposals in May, they claim they were accused of “scaremongering” by Conservative councillors.
Police have always said there were no plans to shut the station, but in response to the latest accusations, Chief Superintendent David Chinchen, Wandsworth’s borough commander, said: “The MPS will routinely review its estate in order to ensure we maximise its use for the provision of the policing service in London.
"Some of our police buildings are expensive to run and not suited to the demands of a 21st century police service. The future of a number of police stations will always be subject to review on this basis.
“At this time, Lavender Hill police station is not subject to any firm plans for closure.
“While I cannot provide certainty we will operate a policing service from the same buildings in the future, I can give my absolute assurance that I will have the necessary accommodation to deliver an effective policing service in the borough.”
Philip Beddows, former councillor and chairman of We Love Battersea, said: “It will be the loss of a very important physical symbol of the police presence within the heart of Battersea.
" It is about the police being seen to be at the heart of the community. The loss of physical importance will have quite an effect.”
Jane Ellison, Battersea MP, said: “Obviously, this is something I will be discussing with Mr Chinchen, but I am quite clear the top priority for the police is fighting crime on the streets of our borough.
"I welcome the borough commander’s absolute assurance he will have the necessary facilities to deliver what my constituents want – visible, effective policing.”
Paul Sedgewick, who has lived in the area for 30 years, said: “First the police pulled out of Battersea just as the riots kicked off, now it seems they are going to be pulling out for good. Were the riots not a big enough warning?”
The MPS confirmed on Monday South Norwood, another police station on the London Assembly list, had been approved and was set for closure.