One of the most important issues raised with us on the doorstep and at resident meetings throughout Lambeth is that of community safety. Local people want – and deserve – to feel safe as they go about their lives, whether it’s in their home, in our public places or at their place of work or worship. That is why there is growing anger at Conservative plans to cut London’s police budget by £1 billion by the end of this decade – a move that threatens to remove thousands of officers from our streets and shut police stations throughout South London.
One of those stations under threat is in our ward in St Leonards. Streatham station on the High Road underwent a major refurbishment only a few years ago and is an important part of frontline, visible policing in the community. In a busy area with businesses, restaurants, bars, public spaces and thousands of homes it is crucial that we have enough police officers for crimes to be reported directly to or issues discussed face to face, and at a location that is easy to reach for local people.
But, as the leader of Lambeth Labour Cllr Lib Peck has already told the government, they cannot keep on plundering the Met’s budget without there being a direct impact on services at the frontline. £600 million has already been taken from London’s police force since the Tories and their Lib Dem friends formed the coalition in 2010 and despite finding £1 billion to bribe the DUP to support their damaged government, the Tories have outlined plans for another £400 million cut in the next few years. Thousands of officers could be lost according to London’s Mayor and now as many as eight stations are under threat in Lambeth.
Local Labour councillors are fighting against these cuts. We have organised a petition signed by more than 600 residents already opposing these plans and will continue to knock on doors throughout the borough to spread the word about this threat to our community safety. It is disappointing that local Conservatives have failed to stand up for strong law and order and lobby their own party to make a change to their policy. But we won’t take that course of action. If you believe we cannot protect the public on the cheap, please sign our petition here and send a clear message to the government that now is the time for them to reverse their damaging policies.
Cllr Saleha Jaffer, Stephen Donnelly and Cllr Robert Hill
St Leonard's Labour Action Team