Editor's comment: Why are we sat on empty cop shops?
PUBLISHED: 08:30 03 October 2019
Something doesn't add up about the Met Police estates strategy.
First it closes 29 police stations and front counters so it can sell them, a move touted as helping it claw back £170million of the (by next year) £1bn cuts forced on it by austerity.
Next, instead of selling them, it does nothing for two years.
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In the meantime, Boris Johnson flops into Downing Street and announces he'll recruit 20,000 new police across Britain to make up for nine years of cuts at the hands of his own party. And now the Met says it needs to hang on to the stations in case it needs the space for all those new officers - how ever many there actually end up being in London, because there's a spot of bother actually getting to grips with the specifics of this promise (still waiting for details of that £350million we're going to be "taking back" from the EU, incidentally). Of course, while reversing cuts to police may be welcome, it is also partly austerity's fault that there is such a strong need for them: an entire public infrastructure that should help keep people away from crime has been eroded since 2010, too.
The extra officers, if they appear, may justify not selling the buildings now. But what was the Met doing with them for the two years before Johnson took office? And was it worth £170m? Could the buildings have been offered out as homeless or domestic violence shelters?
The mayor of London's comment offers no explanation about the tardy disposal of the buildings.
Londoners paying council tax, of which a percentage is precepted by Mr Khan, will rightly have wanted to see a return for the loss of those 29 front counters.
If the plan was simply to land bank them until the government changed, we should have been told that upfront.