Boris Johnson says it’s ‘mad’ that Ham&High forced to pay £30 to keep police in Hampstead
PUBLISHED: 14:52 29 November 2013 | UPDATED: 15:20 29 November 2013
Boris Johnson has vowed to look into Scotland Yard’s refusal to pay £30 to keep police in Hampstead after branding the situation “mad”.
The Mayor of London appeared surprised to learn of the Metropolitan Police Service’s decision during an appearance in nearby West Hampstead yesterday.
He seemed bewildered that the Ham&High may step in to fund a new police drop-in centre following the closure of Hampstead Police Station in Rosslyn Hill in June.
The century-old station is being sold off and is set to raise millions of pounds, yet the Met has refused to pay £30 per week for Hampstead’s officers to rent a room from a charity for a replacement “contact point”.
Mr Johnson told the Ham&High: “It sounds mad to me. I will look at the problem and we will see what we can do. I’m glad the Ham&High have drawn it to my attention.”
The mayor was in West Hampstead to show his support for Conservative parliamentary candidate Simon Marcus, who will vie for the Hampstead and Kilburn seat at the next general election.
His comments come after the Ham&High last week launched a campaign to raise the money for the new police base from the community.
The paper has offered to pay the first month and to fund any future shortfall.
Broadcaster Paul Ross, brother of Hampstead Garden Suburb resident Jonathan Ross, also spoke out about the issue.
He said on BBC London 94.9 radio station on this morning that police ought to be able to find the money by cutting down on “mineral water and biscuits at meetings”.
The £30 fee would pay for Hampstead’s officers to rent a room at the Old Hampstead Town Hall in Haverstock Hill three times per week, for an hour at a time, so residents can drop in to speak to police.
The building is run by a youth arts charity, Wac Arts, which counts Ms Dynamite among its alumni. It wanted £10 per hour just to cover its costs.
Scotland Yard stepped in to block the scheme only after officers in Hampstead had spent months scouting for a suitable location, running trials in four shortlisted options including a branch of Starbucks in South End Green.
The old town hall was identified as the perfect location following the most successful trial, receiving the most visitors and best feedback.
But just as they were set to sign a deal with Wac Arts, having already been told the £30 was available and would not be a problem, Hampstead’s officers were at the last minute told by Scotland Yard that they could not pay out after all.
The Met says it is concerned about setting a London-wide precedent that would lead to paying for contact points across the capital.
The annual bill for the old town hall would come to £1,560. If the Met was forced to pay a similar sum at five contact points in all 32 boroughs, the yearly cost would be just under £250,000.
The Ham&High understands its offer to raise the money is being considered by Camden Police.
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