Labour calls for cross-party support to force Boris Johnson into Croydon police cuts rethink
BORIS Johnson must reconsider plans to close all but one of Croydon's police stations, Labour has urged.
A motion, put forward by eight Labour councillors, states the public deserves a "meaningful period of engagement" over changes that will "shape policing in this borough for a generation".
Paul Smith, shadow cabinet member for crime and public protection, is one of those calling for a rethink.
The motion requires the support of Conservative councillors who have, at least publicly, backed the Mayor of London's proposals.
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Cllr Smith said: "There may well have to be changes – we understand that – but there must also be proper debate.
"These plans will shape policing for generations - we must not get them wrong.
"I am sure there are people on the other side of the chamber who are as concerned as we are. The challenge is whether they feel they can support the motion."
But Simon Hoar, cabinet member for crime and public protection, gave suggestion of cross-party support short shrift.
He said: "As per usual Labour is more interested in sanctimonious politics than serious business.
"There's a serious debate to be had about policing but Labour is just objecting for the sake of it."
South Norwood, Norbury, Kenley, Addington and Purley stations have been earmarked for closure as part of plans to meet £500 million cuts to the police budget.
The Mayor's Office for Crime and Policing (MOPAC) says the closures will be offset by an additional 117 officers assigned to the borough, mostly in safer neighborhoods teams.
Council leader Mike Fisher, Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell and London Assembly member Steve O'Connell have all backed the proposals which they say will give Croydon a fairer share of Met resources.
Labour's motion will be discussed at a extraordinary meeting of the council following the full session at the Town Hall on Monday (January 28).
Addiscombe councillor Sean Fitzsimons backed the request out of concern that the north of Croydon, an area with similar levels of crime to inner London, will be left without a police station.
Cllr Fitzsimons, who sat on the independent review panel set up following the riots in August 2011, believes closures send out the wrong message.
"We have a real concern that people seem to have forgotten what happened 18 months ago," he said.
"There's a lot of public anger, fear and unease out there. The Mayor and the police are failing to understand Croydon's needs.
"They completely failed to understand it a year ago when the riots happened. They didn't prioritise Croydon because they didn't see it as under threat.
"I'm not saying we have to have lots of police stations but there needs to be one in the north of the borough. That's where the majority of our crimes occur.
"It's not about how many people visit or report cries there. A station says the police are part of the community and are going to protect it.
"With the right amount of pressure we can force the Met to rethink its strategy."
Cllr Hoar replied: "They're just trying to score some points. Most of the stuff they do is about that.
"We will have extra police and additional access points, but Labour is only interested in bricks and mortar."
If the Mayor's policing plan is approved, Croydon will lose the highest proportion of police stations in London.
An eight week consultation process into the changes is underway. Croydon residents will only get one opportunity to directly quiz senior decision makers during an hour long meeting on February 12.