Lib Dem candidate hits back at suggestion rival Hammond stopped closure of Wimbledon Police Station

By Georgia Simcox
December 10 2019, 16.51

Wimbledon’s Liberal Democrat candidate Paul Kohler has branded the council’s approach to the threatened closure of the police station ‘politics of the schoolyard’.

During his campaign to save Wimbledon Police station, Mr Kohler wanted to work cross-party and had approached MP Stephen Hammond and Labour Council leader Stephen Alambritis.

Mr Kohler said: “This is not grown up politics. It’s the politics of the schoolyard.”

He said he also approached them about working cross-party after he won legal action following a brutal attack on him at his home in 2014.

After the attack he launched a legal action to keep Wimbledon Police Station open and believes he only survived the attack because police at Wimbledon station were able to respond within eight minutes. 

Mr Kohler won the case and the High Court ruled the closure of Wimbledon police station as unlawful. 

He said: “The point was the police station would be closed now had it not been for my legal action.”

He added: “That gave us a reprieve. During that reprieve, the borough commander, not because of the suggestions of Stephen Hammond, realised that she needed that police station. 

“But Stephen Hammond had nothing to do with that process. What Stephen Hammond has done is refuse to join me in the legal action.” 

Earlier this month, Scotland Yard confirmed it will rethink the future of Wimbledon Police Station. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan put the future of the station in the balance in 2017 when he announced 38 of the capital’s 73 police stations were to close. 

Mr Kohler, a university lecturer, said: “I was there with the scrutiny committee, along with Tory councillors and Labour councillors when the Borough Commander announced that she was reviewing the position with regards to the police stations in Merton. 

“It was clear she realised at the end of the meeting she had not made herself clear. 

“I was contacted by the police as were the Conservative councillors and the Labour councillors and told that what she had meant was that she was reviewing the Wimbledon Police Station. 

“To pretend that that was an idea that came from Stephen [Hammond] is simply not the sequence of events. The idea came from the borough commander.” 

The borough commander has put the suggestion to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and is awaiting a decision. 

Mr Kohler said it’s unlikely MOPAC will ignore the views of the new borough commander who has realised she needs the police station. 

Mr Hammond told SWLondoner last week: “I had a lengthy discussion with the borough commander about the impact of marshalling the emergency vehicles for that side of Wandsworth and Wimbledon needing a new centre and the obvious place was to keep it at Wimbledon station.

“The extra number of police officers, as a result of the 20,000 over three years that Conservatives are promising, means that at the end of the three-year period there will be an extra 200 police officers in the borough and they will need somewhere to be based.” 

Mr Kohler has been a Liberal Democrat councillor for Wimbledon since May 2018.

He said chose to move to central government as he was unimpressed by the leadership of the two main parties and felt things needed to change. 

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