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Campaign launched against police counter closure in Walthamstow
A campaign has been launched against plans to close public access to a police base in Walthamstow High Street.
The Safer Neighbourhood Team office, opposite the market entrance to the Selborne Walk Mall, is set to have its front counter shut as part of proposals by City Hall to save £500million across London by 2015.
The Labour group in Walthamstow, including MP Stella Creasy and council cabinet members Cllr Liaquat Ali and Cllr Clare Coghill, are calling on Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson to rethink the proposals.
The plans, announced three weeks ago, also include the closure of public access at Leytonstone Police Station, and confirmation of the sale of stations in Leyton and Walthamstow, although these were previously announced last year.
Labour has expressed fears the closures will make it harder for residents to report crimes.
But Mr Johnson says the cuts are essential to maintain police numbers in London, and that redeploying officers 'in the community' will make them more accountable and visible to the public.
Waltham Forest is also set to get the biggest increase in police officer numbers under the shake-up, with 119 extra officers taking the size of the borough's force up to 642 by 2015.
But Ms Creasy said: "These changes are causing real fears for many about the impact this will have on the service they receive.
"The mayor wants to close the counter service in the busy high street and so leaving Walthamstow without any police station the public can attend at all.
"I've had many residents get in touch expressing their fears about what they will do if they need to speak to the police as they don't want to have to go all the way up to Chingford [Police Station]."
Ms Creasy also criticised the “silence” of the Liberal Democrats on the issue, and urged them to join the campaign.
Mr Johnson defended the London-wide plans in a statement and said the number of people visiting front counters to report crimes was falling.
He added: “In the current economic climate there is no denying that tough decisions will have to be made but policing in the capital is changing and we must change with it”.
Campaigners are calling on residents to attend a public consultation meeting on Monday February 25 at Walthamstow Assembly Hall in Forest Road from 6pm.
Visit www.london.gov.uk/policingevents to register.
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