On Friday evening I attended a special meeting of Redbridge Council's Area 1 Committee which covers the wards of Wanstead and Snaresbrook in the West part of the borough. Chaired by Cllr Chris Cummins, the meeting was called to discuss plans to close Wanstead Police Station which had featured on the front page of the Wanstead and Woodford Guardian.
The deputy borough police commander assured a packed room that no decisions had been taken, however with a £500 million gap in their budget the Met Police had to consider all options and amongst these was a review of their property requirements.
There was widespread local concern, not least because this is not the first threat to the police station. The building was closed in late 2001 but reopened in 2003 after a successful campaign led by local councillor Allan Burgess. During the closure period residents endured a 23% increase in crime in the area.
This time residents are better prepared and there are two petitions opposing the closure, each with over 1,000 signatures. Local councillors and MP John Cryer are united in their opposition and the future of police stations in the borough is due to be debated at a Redbridge Council meeting on 20th October. I have agreed to present the petitions to the Mayor who is ultimately responsible for any decision.
Because closure will lead to poorer response times, loss of public access and removal of a deterrent to crime in the area, I hope that local people and politicians of all parties will be able to speak with one voice against this ill judged plan.