Two Merton political heavyweights have clashed over how to stop the proposed closure of Wimbledon Police Station following last week’s deadline for consultancy responses.
Stephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon, and Labour’s Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis are both fighting to save the station, but with very different strategies.
Wimbledon Police Station has been threatened with closure under Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s proposals to close 50% of London police station front desks.
The cut-off passed for responses to the Mayor’s plans on October 6, and proposals will now be debated by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).
Mr Hammond, 55, cited Mr Khan’s poor budget management as the reason for the dangers Wimbledon Police Station now faces.
He said: “He’s got money in reserves he could use to save police stations if he wants to and local people are aware of that.
“The previous Mayor had to make savings as well but we didn’t have the threat of these police station closures at the time.”
Mr Alambritis, 55, instead blamed Chancellor Philip Hammond for the cuts, calling on him and Home Secretary Amber Rudd to free up extra police funding.
He said: “That would then influence Sadiq Khan’s decision and hopefully allow him to retain more of our police stations.
“The Chancellor has an ideal opportunity on November 22 to send a signal that they do consider our police stations to be important, and that we do need more bobbies on the beat.”
With reports that the UK’s budget deficit is falling faster than expected, Mr Alambritis hopes this will encourage the government to streamline the latest round of austerity measures.
He added: “The concerns of the people need to be reflected in any easing off of austerity.
“Cuts to vulnerable people, cuts to children’s services, cuts to adult social care, and on security and safety issues.
“Hopefully cuts to policing will also come into that, as well as the need to spend a bit more on housing and the NHS.”
Wimbledon MP Mr Hammond responded by urging caution over the figures Mr Khan had been pushing for with regards police budgets.
He said: “I think you’ve got to be careful, the Mayor’s been floating around a number which isn’t universally agreed by anyone.
“He doesn’t know the final settlement yet but he’s already making noises.
“The Mayor has said he will now consider the results and come back with his response to people’s views fairly quickly thereafter.
“I don’t mind when his response comes provided he changes his mind about Wimbledon.”