Last night, we took our campaign to keep a police station and strong police presence in Streatham right to the top decision-makers: Stephen Greenhalgh, London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing, and Matt Bell, Lambeth Borough Commander. At a public meeting at Brixton Town Hall, we questioned both directly. And, immediately beforehand, we met with Stephen Greenhalgh to hand in a petition signed by hundreds of local residents. We were joined by Streatham Labour party colleagues, and also by Val Shawcross AM and Lib Peck, Leader of Lambeth Council. And we got an immediate – and positive – response.
Following last night’s petition handover and meeting, we are able to confirm that:
1) the new Streatham police station will be situated at 326-328 Streatham High Road (by the junction with Gleneagle Road, a bit before you get to Morrisons and Streatham station). This property is already owned by the Metropolitan Police, though is currently boarded up.
2) the current police station will not be closed until the new building is open and functioning.
3) the four Streatham Safer Neighbourhood Teams (the local policing unit for each ward) will be based in the new building – ie it will be a “deployment base” as well a front counter service.
4) all the front counter services provided currently at Streatham police station and the current opening hours will be maintained in the new building.
5) the process of getting the new building ready for use will start in Summer 2014, though the exact timescale for the move itself was not given.
This is fantastic news, especially given the frustration residents have felt at the lack of information and clarity over the past year. We’re pleased that our campaigning – the street stalls, letters and other lobbying efforts, culminating in yesterday’s specially arranged meeting with the Deputy Mayor to hand over the petition – has been successful.
Together with Chuka Umunna MP, we set out 5 key tests which we asked the Mayor’s Office and the police to meet about the future of a police station in Streatham. Unlike the LibDems, this wasn’t about saving a particular building; one which no longer suits the needs of either the police or the public. Instead, we wanted to ensure that Streatham maintained a centrally-located front counter service with local police officers based there. We believe four out of five of our tests are on target to be met … if the Deputy Mayor and Borough Commander keep their promises.
Streatham Labour candidates and Val and Lib
However, there are still several big unknowns, and areas of concern:
(i) The timescale for the opening of the new police station site has not been confirmed. The logistical problems apparently encountered when the police first bought the site and tried to develop it have not gone away, so we are keen to see a proper plan for the site and the works needed.
(ii) The new front counter services need to be fully accessible, unlike at the current police station.
(iii) The front counter services will not be restored to 24 hour opening, as they were in Streatham until the Boris’s cuts last year.
(iv) No mention was made of whether proceeds from the sell-off of the existing police station will provide more resources to fund local policing services in Streatham.
(v) No mention of any reverse in the cuts to police numbers. 214 police officer posts have been lost in Lambeth since 2010. Lambeth Council’s call, which we back, for 100 more police looks like it will be ignored by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
We will continue to press Stephen Greenhalgh and the Lambeth Borough Commander on these matters. Our first action will be to get in writing from both men what they verbally committed to last night. Already we have this from Matt Bell’s office, but obviously now want a more detailed response:
We will also try to succeed where MOPAC has failed: to keep Streatham residents properly informed about the future of the police station.
Thanks again for your support,