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Met commander says plan to close all but one Croydon police station drawn up before end of 2011

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ASSISTANT Commissioner Simon Byrne says the Met has been planning to close all but one police station in Croydon since before the end of 2011.
Mr Byrne said the plan had "gone too far" and was based on "decisions which go back a number of years about previous ideas of closing buildings".
He is the third senior officer to backtrack on proposals, announced publicly last month, which would see five of the borough's six stations shut.
Referring to a graphic showing which buildings may close, Mr Byrne told a public meeting on Tuesday: "I am prepared to go as far as to say the map with one place has gone too far.
"You can imagine there are certain parts of the borough where we wouldn't want to have no point of access."
He added: "The map, and I'm not trying to get into a blame game, reflects legacy decisions that go back a number of years about previous ideas of closing buildings."
After the public meeting at Croydon Conference Centre, the Advertiser asked Mr Byrne to elaborate on what he meant by "legacy decisions".
He said: "There has been an idea about (closing) police stations going back a couple of years, but selling buildings takes a while."
When asked who took the decision he added: "I'm saying it was a management board that doesn't exist at the moment."
Mr Byrne said the plan had been drawn up prior to his arrival at the Met in November 2011.
In January, the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) announced it wanted to close dozens of police stations across London to meet a £500 million cut in the police budget by 2014/15.  
Stations in South Norwood, Norbury, Addington, Purley and Kenley have all been earmarked for closure.
Since then a number of senior police officers have rushed to distance themselves from a plan which would leave a borough of more than 360,000 people with just its main station in Park Lane.  
First Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe called for a"sensible" solution in which Croydon would keep "two of three" stations.
Then temporary borough commander Richard Wood said last week that he was "keen to explore the option" of having a base in one of the wards in the north.  
It seems increasingly likely that there will be a front counter at the new custody centre on Windmill Road.
Speaking at Tuesday's meeting, Superintendent Rob Atkin said the Met was considering how to deploy officers in the north of the borough, adding "we are looking at including (Windmill Road) as one of our public contact points," as well as "somewhere on the London Road".
"We know the map at the moment is just too stark," added Mr Byrne, who suggested that Croydon might also share a police station with a neighbouring borough.
Following the meeting, Chief Superintendent Wood said he was "not sure" where the plan to close all but one police station had originated or when it had been drawn up, but added that "everyone accepts one is not enough" and that he was "fully confident" the proposals would be adjusted.
The admission that the Met had decided to sell the buildings more than two years ago raises inevitable questions about how long politicians have been aware of the plans.
When asked last month how long he had known, Steve O'Connell, London Assembly member for Croydon and Sutton, and a former member of the police and crime committee, said the question was "irrelevant".
Stephen Greenhalgh, deputy mayor for policing and crime, was also on the panel at this week's meeting.
He was challenged by Croydon North MP Steve Reed over whether the promised 117 extra officers  by 2015 represents a genuine increase, given that it returns the borough to the levels seen in 2010.
Mr Greenhalgh said the increase was "unequivocal" and that the figures could not be compared because specialist teams have been moved out of the borough.
Mr Byrne added: "While the detail is always of interest, in broad terms this is a really good news story for the borough."

Met commander says plan to close all but one Croydon police station drawn up before end of 2011


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