, Senior reporter
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Councillors and residents in Redbridge have reacted with dismay to proposals to close Wanstead and Woodford police stations to the public and possibly sell both buildings.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) announced its draft police and crime plan yesterday which includes plans to close the front counters at the stations in Spratt Hall Road, Wanstead, and High Road, Woodford Green.
And a MOPAC spokesman told the Recorder yesterday both buildings will also be sold as the Met Police look to make £500m savings in the next three years.
Council leader Cllr Keith Prince said: “We understand that the public want more bobbies on the beat, which the Met has delivered with over 1,000 extra police officers.
“However, I believe we made a compelling case to retain a permanent police station in the west of the borough.
“We will continue to vigorously lobby MOPAC throughout the consultation process that began [yesterday] on the importance our residents place on retaining a base in the west of the borough.”
He said he will work with Redbridge’s borough commander Det Ch Supt Sue Williams to ensure there is a police presence in Wanstead and Woodford Green regardless of the final decision.
At a public meeting last year, he vowed to use council buildings to house safer neighbourhood officers in the west of Redbridge if he had to.
MOPAC proposes selling around 200 buildings, but says new contact points will be set up across the capital in busy high street locations such as supermarkets, with other public services in council buildings or even in post offices.
Wanstead and Woodford stations were placed among 65 “under-used” stations in figures released by the Met last year.
They see 7.5 visitors and 11.4 visitors on average hourly hour compared to 29 and 24 for Ilford and Barkingside.
Geoff Horsnell, of Gloucester Road, Wanstead, has campaigned against the closures as part of the Wanstead and Snaresbrook Residents’ Alliance.
He said Wanstead could be difficult for officers to access from elsewhere because it is sandwiched between the A12 and A406.
He said: “Unless they base cars in the west of the borough, and Wanstead is an ideal spot, they can’t have any rapid response in the west of the borough.”
Geoff Stimpson, of Beresford Drive, Woodford Green, a former detective at Barkingside and Woodford police stations, said: “It’s a concern to everyone.
“They have to make some drastic cutbacks but what concerns me is what level of policing we will inherit.”
MOPAC says the number of police officers in Redbridge will go up from 444 in October 2011 to 530 in 2015 and there will be 68 more safer neighbourhood officers.
It argues the number of contact points for the public in London will increase.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “Putting more officers on the streets is key to driving down crime and boosting public confidence in the police and that is why it is at the heart of our plans for policing in the capital.”
The London deputy mayor for policing Stephen Greenhalgh and the Met’s assistant commissioner Simon Byrne will host a series of town hall meetings including in Redbridge Town Hall, on February 11, to discuss the plans.