Labour councillors challenged the Conservative administration at last week’s meeting of Wandsworth Council over the dangerous triple threat of cuts to council community safety teams, huge national police cuts and the threatened closure of local police stations.
Labour councillors called a debate on cuts to the council’s community safety teams, which are to be slashed by 25%.
During the debate, Cllr Rex Osborn, Leader of the Labour Group, brought silence to the Conservative benches when it was revealed they were clueless over the potential threat to Lavender Hill police station, which Labour have been raising concerns over for some time.
A response to questioning by Labour councillors also revealed that Wandsworth’s police Safer Neighbourhood Teams are currently understaffed by a staggering 31 PCSOs. No firm assurances were offered as to when and how this problem would be rectified.
In the context of 20% cuts to policing nationally, and a known 1,200 officers lost between 2010-12 in London alone under Boris Johnson, Labour is concerned about the risk this poses to community cohesion and safety.
Cllr Osborn, Leader of the Labour Group, said: “The Council’s own paper acknowledges that community safety is a priority for the residents of Wandsworth – yet it still plans to push ahead with cuts to its front line community safety staff. At the same time, it refuses to acknowledge that the future of Lavender Hill police station is in doubt, in spite of confirmation from the Mayor of London’s office that it has been pre-approved for closure and disposal.
“Given that Lavender Hill station is just metres away from one of the worst affected areas by last summer’s riots, Wandsworth residents rightly expect their Council to fight for its future now – rather than wait until a decision to sell it off has been finalised.
“Although Labour councillors understand that cuts need to be made during these difficult economic times, we would prioritise and protect community safety services – as residents have told us they would want us to – and find savings elsewhere.”