Thursday, 12 June 2008

Are we seeing some Police backsliding going on?

It's a difficult situation and it's ongoing but it's Hampstead Police Station again.

But is it possible that this picture of the number 26 house on Rosslyn Hill is in fact the entrance to what will be Hampstead Police Station?

In all of the discussions and debates the police have all been slightly coy about the reality of what is being looked at and explored. I am worried, and others are too, that the Police Estates Team intend to sell the current police station for a large capital reciept and decant into the house next door.

The fundamental problem is that replaces large freehold with smaller freehold which is preferable to going from freehold to leasehold, but as a piece of asset management it's a bonkers concept.

The other element that drives me to drink is the idea that the building is not fit for purpose. It's become one of the most over-used phrases in management speak and in this case it's not true.

There are many old buildings, most older than 1913 (it's Edwardian not Victorian as the police often claim!), that are quite easily used and indeed maintained. The truth is there is a problem due to neglect - pure and simple.

The police were given community assets and they have failed to maintain them. Not one penny has been meaningfully spent on Hampstead Police Station for far far too long - I suspect the same is not true of the offices of the senior officers at the top of the Met. This is a very real case whereby a little spent often would have avoided a financial trap.

So I strongly believe that it is entirely legitimate to say you need to invest now, enhance and preserve our assets and development in order to build the confidence of the community. No-one is suggesting the status quo - we all accept that that current counter (right) is acceptable and we know and want improvements. That's it, improvements and confidence, not neglect and disposal.

To this end I have written to our Borough Commander, Dominic Clout asking for some clarification and reassurance. he's dead good, connected and impressive so I'm vaguely hopeful... time will tell.

The letter in full:

Dear Dominic,

You are well aware of the ongoing concern about the future of Hampstead Police Station and the threat to reduce the number of uniformed police stationed in Hampstead (covering the areas Belsize, South End Green, Frognal, North End and Hampstead in particular – some 40,000 residents).

Today's coverage of the Police closures and London's MPA Asset Management Plans has acted as a timely reminder that consideration is currently being given to the consultation responses.

I wonder in the context of this if you might confirm what the precise timescale is for the reporting back of the consultation; what the status and nature of any such report or recommendation might be and who will make the final decision on the future of the station and the allocation of resources in the context of the property asset plans.

Further, I would be grateful if you could address current concerns that the MPA, encouraged by senior police offices within the Camden Borough structure, are actively considering converting the house to the side of the Hampstead station and would be seeking to re-designate that as the Police Station. As you know this is not considered to be an acceptable alternative by the community and I would be grateful if you could take this opportunity to scotch the notion that it is being actively explored.

I look forwards to hearing from you,

With best wishes

Ed Fordham, Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary campaigner
07974 950 512

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