DIS­MAY AT CLO­SURES OF PO­LICE FRONT COUN­TERS

Uxbridge Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by GOOLISTAN COOPER goolistan.cooper@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Coop_­dog

POLITI­CIANS and the pub­lic have re­acted with dis­may to the po­lice front counter clo­sure an­nounce­ment on Wed­nes­day Novem­ber 1.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said a string of sta­tions will close across the city, with Eal­ing, Southall, Ful­ham, Uxbridge, Chiswick in west London all set for the chop.

The fu­tures of Pin­ner and Ruis­lip sta­tions are still un­cer­tain, with both still un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

The move has been con­demned by op­po­si­tion politi­cians, who blasted the con­sul­ta­tion process.

Mr Khan said he had been left with no choice but to shut more than half of the cap­i­tal’s 73 re­main­ing po­lice front coun­ters be­cause of gov­ern­ment cuts on po­lice fund­ing.

Th­ese in­clude Not­ting Hill Sta­tion, close to Gren­fell Tower, which is set to re­ceive a tem­po­rary front counter for two years un­der the plans.

Guy Oliver has signed the Save Not­ting Hill po­lice sta­tion pe­ti­tion along with 2,367 other peo­ple.

He said: “In the light of the re­cent tragedy of Gren­fell and the ob­vi­ous need for com­mu­nity polic­ing in this area, there is the ad­di­tional spe­cial im­por­tance of fos­ter­ing good and on­go­ing lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tion­ships for the an­nual car­ni­val.

“It seems ut­ter folly to close Not­ting Hill, it is not just a neigh­bour­hood po­lice sta­tion.”

The sta­tion falls in Labour MP Emma Dent Coad’s Kens­ing­ton con­stituency and she put the blame firmly at the gov­ern­ment’s doorstep.

She said: “Kens­ing­ton res­i­dents will be dis­traught at the loss of Not­ting Hill po­lice sta­tion in Lad­broke Grove – as am I.

“It is dis­ap­point­ing and frankly in­de­fen­si­ble that the Home Sec­re­tary re­fused to lis­ten to the Mayor of London’s pleas for fund­ing to main­tain lo­cal polic­ing lev­els and keep our sta­tion open.”

Jus­ti­fy­ing the clo­sures, Mr Khan has pointed to a high per­cent­age of crimes be­ing re­ported on­line or by phone.

Ms Dent Coad wel­comed the tem­po­rary sta­tion, but warned: “It is not enough to state that peo­ple can re­port crime on­line – many of our vis­i­tors to the area, as well as our most vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents, do not have IT ac­cess, and would not know how to use it if they did.

“Se­ri­ous youth vi­o­lence in North Kens­ing­ton is in­creas­ing, and white col­lar crime such as drug use, ‘high class’ pros­ti­tu­tion and on­line fraud are un­der-re­ported.

“How can we main­tain vig­i­lance and im­prove crime pre­ven­tion with the loss of this sta­tion?”

Green London Assem­bly Mem­ber Sian Berry said: “Within just three weeks off the back of a rushed con­sul­ta­tion the Met has an­nounced barely a sin­gle change to their plans to close sta­tions and front coun­ters across London.

“Even in Not­ting Hill, the po­lice sta­tion which is needed more than ever now will be closed. Although a re­place­ment front counter has been an­nounced, the lo­cal com­mu­nity can rightly sus­pect this will only be tem­po­rary.

“The peo­ple around Gren­fell Tower de­served bet­ter.”

West Cen­tral’s Con­ser­va­tive London Assem­bly mem­ber Tony Devenish be­lieves a de­ci­sion was reached be­fore feed­back from the con­sul­ta­tions was ex­am­ined.

Hop­ing for a ju­di­cial re­view, he said: “As long ago as Au­gust my res­i­dents knew the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion was a box tick­ing ex­er­cise – the Deputy Com­mis­sioner let slip in an in­ter­view that my high land value po­lice sta­tions were ‘a goner’.

“Sadiq Khan has a le­gal duty to con­sult with­out a pre­de­ter­mined out­come.”

A spokesman for Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea Coun­cil, which op­posed the clo­sure of Not­ting Hill sta­tion, said crime rates in the north of the bor­ough was high and re­quired im­me­di­ate blue-light re­sponse.

He also crit­i­cised the tem­po­rary Gren­fell plan, say­ing com­mu­nity con­tact ses­sions were “poor sub­sti­tutes for po­lice sta­tions”.

London mayor Sadiq Khan

(Left) London Assem­bly mem­ber for West Cen­tral Tony Devenish; (right) Green may­oral can­di­date Sian Berry

Uxbridge po­lice sta­tion

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