Greenwich Council fails Eltham’s residents with negative attitude to policing
Conservative Councillors Charlie Davis and Spencer Drury have condemned the blinkered approach of Greenwich Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Community Safety as failing Eltham residents by refusing to buy the local police station or provide any other support for local police.
At the December meeting of Greenwich Council, Cllr Jackie Smith, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Integrated Enforcement was asked specifically by Cllr Davis whether the Council would consider buying Eltham’s Police Station, which is currently closed and is to be sold off under plans drawn up for the Mayor of London. Cllr Smith stated that ‘No is the answer’ and went on to compare the plan to buy the police station as having no rationale except for “someone that has fallen down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland”.
Unfortunately for Cllr Smith, Havering Council announced in September 2018 that they would take over Hornchurch Police Station and then lease it back to the Metropolitan Police to preserve a presence in the south of their Borough. In complete contrast to Cllr Smith approach, the Leader of Havering Council stated they had been “working behind the scenes” since the announcement of the closure to keep it open – it is reported Hillingdon Council is considering doing something similar in its area.
However, in Greenwich, Cllr Smith has steadfastly refused to negotiate with the Mayor of London to keep Eltham Police Station open informing Cllr Drury in June 2018 that the Labour Council ‘do not have a commitment to keep a major Police Station open’ (1hr 32 mins). At that meeting Cllr Smith stated that questions about keeping Eltham Police Station open were not ‘very helpful’ and suggested residents from the rest of the Borough would not be happy if Eltham were kept open as a result of Council action.
Cllr Charlie Davis said “I will continue to pressure Greenwich Council to buy Eltham Police Station. The Mayor of London’s plan is bad for Eltham and we all know at some point in the future some bright spark will say that more police stations are better than just having one per Borough. Havering Council have shown the way by buying Hornchurch Police Station – Greenwich Council need to follow their lead rather than just calling this policy a fantasy.”
Cllr Spencer Drury commented on that “In contrast to Greenwich Council’s “do nothing” policy Conservative Havering Council has reacted sensibly to the plans to close the police station in the south of their Borough. Our Labour Council lacks the imagination to stand up for residents in the face of the Mayor of London’s plans to close Eltham Police Station and leave us with only one Police Station for the whole Borough in Plumstead. The contrast between a proactive Council in Havering and a blinkered, unresponsive one in Greenwich is plain and I call on the Leader of the Council to overrule the Cabinet Member and step in to save Eltham Police Station.”
It is worth noting that at the December Council meeting, Cllr Smith not only refused to consider purchasing Eltham Police Station is response to Cllr Davis’ question, she also rejected any financial support for front line policing in Greenwich in response to a question from Conservative Deputy Leader Cllr Fletcher and refused to consider reallocating the Council’s Town Wardens to Eltham High Street to allow the police to focus on dealing more actively with the recent spate of burglaries in response to a question from Cllr Drury. There were no questions about policing asked by Labour Councillors.