If you still had any lingering doubt that our elected representatives are too often taking the public for a (very expensive) ride, then a brief exchange today between Steve “Three Jobs” O’Connell and a reporter from the Croydon Sadvertiser should wipe away any reservations once and for all.
How long had he known that all but one of Croydon’s police stations are to close, O’Connell was asked.
The question, O’Connell said, was irrelevant.
Well, people of Croydon, we hope you are all able to sleep safely in your beds tonight and into the future, once Kenley councillor O’Connell – who receives £44,000 per year in allowances as a cabinet member in Croydon, plus £54,000 as the Conservative member of the London Assembly for Croydon and Sutton; his third job is with Sutton’s Tory party – and his chum, London Mayor Boris Johnson, preside over the closure of the front desks at Purley, Kenley, Addington, Norbury and South Norwood.
It all means that the central Croydon police station will be the only one in the borough to continue to operate on a 24/7 basis.
Cheers, Boris. It’s not like there’s a crime problem in Croydon, after all.
Had the Sadvertiser reporter read Inside Croydon, he will have seen our report from two months ago on the draft proposals from the MOPAC, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, which recommended that four Croydon stations were to close. It seems that Boris and O’Connell have decided that even that is not enough, and now Purley police station can be closed, too.
Do you still feel safe with Boris and O’Connell running our city and borough, Croydon?
As we related in November, the draft report strongly suggested that these swingeing cuts in the police service were planned before the London Mayoral elections last May, but they were kept quiet in case it had an impact on the public’s vote.
So is the question of when O’Connell knew about these police cuts really irrelevant?
Boris is seeking to cut £500 million from the Met’s budget, and he is working on selling off police stations – often in town centre locations – to raise millions which can then be used to avoid even deeper cuts in the number of officers.
“Tough decisions have to be made. Do you really think buildings are more important than cops on the street?” was the attitude expressed by Gavin Barwell, the Croydon Central MP and a Conservative chum of Boris.
The massive flaw in that approach are the hard statistics that show that crime is reduced in areas which have a visible physical presence of police stations.
Under the plans announced at City Hall today, Croydon’s police numbers will rise from 623 to 740 by 2015.
“I would rather see more police on the streets rather than worrying about what station they are based in. What matters to people is not the stations but where police are patrolling,” Simon Hoar, Croydon’s cabinet member for community safety and public protection, told the local paper, dutifully lining up to support the London Mayor, rather than actually representing the views of the residents of his own borough and the ward.
By getting Croydon’s officers to 740, Boris will only bring the borough’s police roll back to levels that they were at in March 2010. And even the Conservatives running Croydon Town Hall were saying then that that was not enough to properly police our borough.
When Boris and O’Connell stood for re-election to City Hall barely seven months ago, they stood on a platform that promised to “make our streets and homes safer”.
Did you really believe them? Now that ought to be an irrelevant question.
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