PLANS to close the front counters of Wanstead and Woodford Police Stations have been greeted with dismay by campaigners who fear it is a prelude to a sell off.
The Met has entered a period of formal consultation with Redbridge council over the closure of the counters ahead of a capital-wide closure programme due to begin in April next year.
It has committed to a public consultation on the matter and says the stations themselves will not necessarily be sold.
But Lori Shearer, 65, of the Monkhams Neighbourhood Watch in Woodford Green, says she fears this is the beginning of the end for both stations.
She will hand in a 1,400 name petition calling on Woodford Police Station to remain open at City Hall today, but admits the announcement on front counters is a big blow to the campaign.
“It’s terrible news and I feel like crying,” she said. “Whatever they say it looks like the start of a slippery slope which will end in the closure of our police station altogether.”
The Met says it has taken the decision because neither station gets enough footfall to justify a front counter.
As part of the plans, Barkingside Police Station will also close in the evenings, with Ilford remaining the borough’s only station with a 24-hour counter.
The Met are proposing to introduce seven new ‘access points’ across the borough on sites including libraries and supermarkets where the public could meet with the police for a few hours several times a week.
Geoff Horsnell of the Wanstead Society who has campaigned to save Wanstead Police Station, said: “What use will a couple of hours a week in a supermarket be?
“Will people really feel comfortable reporting a sensitive crime in such a public place?
“As for this talk of a consultation, while I am glad they are going to have one, I have very little faith that they will listen to what the public say.”
And Mrs Shearer added: “They have made up their mind and they are making a mistake.
“This sends a clear signal to criminals: ‘Come to Wanstead and Woodford!’”
Ian Bond, Deputy leader of Redbridge Council, said: “I think this is a bad decision.
“The police seem to have one lot of people dealing with front counter closures and another dealing with the property portfolio. At some point you would have to think the two will be linked.”