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by Stephen Moore
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Critics have hit out at Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s “shambles” of a plan to hold a single one-hour public meeting to discuss police cutbacks and the closure of front counter services at three police stations.
The north of Westminster will be left with only one front counter service, open 24-hours per day, at Paddington Green station near Edgware Road Tube station, if the proposals put forward by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) are given the green light.
Harrow Road, St John’s Wood and Marylebone stations would close their front counters as part of a plan to save £500million from the Met Police budget in the next three years, prompting outrage. Police numbers are also being cut from Safer Neighbourhood Teams and the borough is projected to have lost 202 officers between 2010 and 2015.
But MOPAC has slated just one hour-long meeting, in Oxford Street next Thursday, to gauge public reaction to its plans.
Westminster North MP Karen Buck told the Wood & Vale: “Westminster police are left with picking up the pieces of a public relations disaster on behalf of MOPAC.
“We have a one-hour meeting in the middle of the borough to discuss fundamental issues about crime reporting and the police presence which primarily affect the north, and as of now, we have nothing to consider in terms of alternative options or even how future Safer Neighbourhood Policing is to be organised. It is a shambles.”
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group; said the move “gives the very strong impression that the decision to close the three police stations has already been taken and the ‘consultation’ is simply a ‘tick box’ exercise”.
He added: “It is vital that the Mayor understands the strength of opposition to his plans. I urge residents to tell the Mayor to think again and to withdraw these proposals.”
Cllr Nickie Aiken, Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for children, young people and community protection, encouraged residents to attend the meeting.
The Mayor’s office defended its consultation process, a spokesman explaining it was down to time constraints. Residents can also fill in a questionnaire online.
The meeting takes place on Thursday, January 31, from 5pm to 6pm, at the Salvation Army, Regent Hall, 275 Oxford St, W1C 2DJ. Anyone unable to attend can fill out a questionnaire online before March 6 at www.smart-survey.co.uk/v.asp?i=67232epffs.