Thursday, January 17, 2013
Campaigners are calling on the community to fight to save public services from being wiped from the face of Hampstead and Belsize Park – after the planned closures of fire and police stations were announced.
City Hall has announced that Belsize Fire Station is set to join Hampstead and West Hampstead police station front counters on the long list of scrapped services in the area as public sector cuts begin to bite.
Fire unions have accused City Hall of “playing with fire” over the proposed closure of Grade II-listed Belsize fire station. Response times will be hit if the fire engine and 28 crew at the station in Lancaster Grove are removed.
Averil Nottage, chairwoman of Belsize Park Residents Association, said: “There is definitely a feeling that the public sector cuts are hitting us hard. This follows the loss of libraries.
“The reduction of public services is acute and the loss of buildings is dramatic and we will not be left with any public services in the area.”
Barnet and Camden’s London Assembly Member, Andrew Dismore, warned that for some residents in the north of Camden, Colindale Police Station will be the nearest station open to the public 24 hours a day.
“It will be a desert in the north of Camden where we are losing Hampstead and West Hampstead police stations and Kentish Town is going on to short time,” he said.
“We are left with Holborn police station right in the bottom right hand corner of the borough and it’s bloody difficult to get to.”
The Heath and Hampstead Society is working on a proposal to keep a front counter and local policing base at Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead.The Metropolitan Police has yet to respond.
Tony Hillier, chairman of the society, said: “It makes absolutely no justification for the closure of any individual police station and certainly the case will be made locally, and it’s a very strong case, that some force must be retained in Hampstead.”
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Glenda Jackson has written to the Met and the London Assembly Member for Fire stating her concerns over the planned closures. She said: ““People need to make their feelings heard to let the powers that be know how they feel.”
Should the closures go ahead, after a period of consultation, police front counters will be replaced with “pop-up” counters in community centres and cafes.
Residents in Belsize Park would have to rely on the remaining five fire engines in the borough at stations in West Hampstead, Kentish Town and Euston.