Council leadership accused of giving up the fight over police station closures (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Leader of Redbridge council, cllr Keith Prince, accused of giving up fight to save Wanstead and Woodford police stations
The fight to keep Wanstead and Woodford police stations open has been abandoned by the council''s Conservative leadership, according to the Labour opposition.
Tempers flared during a town hall debate last night, with Labour group leader Jas Athwal accusing his Tory counterpart, Cllr Keith Prince, of failing to represent the views of the community.
Cllr Prince hit back by accusing Cllr Athwal of trying to score political points.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has earmarked the stations for closure as part of a plan to save £500 million by 2015.
The Tory leadership in Redbridge responded by saying space in council buildings could be made available for use by officers.
But speaking today Cllr Athwal said: “When all the police stations across London are being reviewed and the leader of the council comes out and says he will make space available in council buildings, it sends out a message to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, that we have accepted our police stations will close.
“Residents don’t want supermarkets and libraries as police stations. They want a traditional police station where they can feel safe and report crime.
“We want a council leader who will fight tooth and nail for our police stations.
“There was no politics played, someone just had to point out the blindingly obvious that our council leader has given up the fight.”
Cllr Prince responded by saying: "Cllr Athwal is trying to score cheap political points, while the rest of us are trying to save the police stations from closure.
"We aren't playing games, we aren't playing poker, we are just trying to get the best deal for our residents if the worst comes to the worst.”
Helen Zammett of the Wanstead and Snaresbrook Residents' Alliance has petioned to save Wanstead police station from closure.
She said: “Residents would be very annoyed if this business about providing a base was all about cheap political point scoring.
“It is an issue which they shouldn’t score points off each other. Policing is one issue where they should put aside their differences and work together.”
Both parties have agreed to write to Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, to lobby against the closure of front counters.
Mr Greenhalgh is due to attend a meeting at Redbridge Town Hall on February 11 to answer questions from the public.
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