Election candidates clash over Wimbledon police station

A row erupted between Merton Council election candidates about how to deal with Wimbledon police station’s closure at a hustings on Wednesday.

One attendee at the hustings, organised by the Federation of Small Businesses, asked how each party plans to deal with high street crime.

The station’s closure is one of many across the capital announced on November 1 to save costs.

Conservative candidate James Holmes said: “Closing Wimbledon police station would be an utter disaster for our community, we should do all we can to keep it open.

“The reason a vote for the Conservatives is so important next week is that we actually do have a policy and the policy is that we will take money from the council’s Capital Budget, buy the police station and seek to lease it back to the police.”

He added that though he admired Lib Dem candidate Paul Kohler’s passionate campaigning he did not think it could lead to the decision being reversed.

Labour leader of the council Stephen Alambritis said the blame for the police station’s closure lay with the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats for cutting the Metropolitan Police budget.

He said: “For a party to see it’s national party cut a service and then for the local branch to say let’s get the council taxpayer to pay for that, that sets a very dangerous precedent.

“We’ll get to the point where Merton becomes Northampton, which is completely bankrupt under the Tory administration.”

He added: “The only party that has a solution to what’s happening here is the local Labour party, which is arguing for a continued police presence, starting with the use of the Magistrates’ Court, which is fit for purpose.”

Mr Kohler said the parties expended too much energy fighting each other when should be working together.

Green candidate Kenneth Green said: “We’re one of the richest countries in the world, why can we not afford to have a police station in Wimbledon? It makes no sense.”

He added that fear of crime was at one of its highest levels in the borough since records began.

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