Labour says no to £4.5m plan to save Uxbridge Police Station over service cuts and sick pay fears

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Hillingdon Council should scrap its plans to spend £4.5m on saving Uxbridge Police Station to prevent other services from future cuts, Hillingdon’s Labour Leader says.

The front desk at Uxbridge’s Police Station closed last week as part of police cutbacks across London by Mayor Sadiq Khan. It means Hillingdon residents will have to travel to the station in Hayes if they want to speak to a police officer to report a crime.

As part of the cutbacks, the station will then close permanently in 2020. Plans are afoot, however, for the council to buy the station for £4.5m.

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Despite agreeing that Uxbridge Police Station should not be closed, Hillingdon’s Labour Leader and Councillor for Townfield, Peter Curling, believes the funds could be spent on improving other services in the borough. He also claimed the money was particularly surprising considering new proposals to save money by amending sick pay terms for council staff.

Mr Curling said: “As far as I am aware, no-one is happy to see any police station close. We opposed the closure of West Drayton Police Station a few years ago and I certainly do not want to see Uxbridge Police Station closed. 

“As for the council's proposals to spend £4.5 million on the purchase of the building, plus £250,000 in running costs for the next 5 years, I cannot support such expenditure when the services that the council are responsible for suffer even more cuts.”

Read the council leader's views on why he plans to spend the money to save the station HERE.

Cllr Curling also called on council chiefs to put pressure on the borough’s MPs, Boris Johnson, Nick Hurd and John McDonnell, so that the counil does not have to pay the £4.5m fee by itself.

He said: “The council should be applying pressure through our 3 borough MPs - one of whom is a former Mayor of London, who started the police station sell off, one is the Minister of State for Policing and the other one is the Shadow Chancellor - to force the government to pay for the shortfall, rather than see councils forced into putting up their council tax or cutting council services to pay for police stations.”

He said the council could not afford to spend such a large amount on this one area.

Cllr Curling said: “We have seen the closure of day care centres, the closure of Children's centres, increasing fly-tipping due to cuts in budgets and much more.  We also have an ever-increasing housing crisis with a virtual constant stream of casework from people who find themselves homeless through no fault of their own.”

He also joined the GMB Union in attacking the council for consulting with staff over cuts to sick pay.

Cllr Curling said: “If the council can afford to subsidise national government funding by purchasing a police station and contributing to its running costs, then surely they can pay their staff if they are unwell?  I understand the sentiment and the feeling of the council wanting to do something to protect the Police service in Hillingdon but with so many other priorities that are the direct responsibility of the council, I can’t see how this can be justified, when cuts are being made to so many areas of the council.”

Hillingdon Council explained that it is seeking views on whether occupational sick pay only commences following either the first, second or third day of absence, saying this could save between £260,000 and £720,000 per year if implemented.

In a statement on the sick pay issue, officials said that the views of the GMB “on this subject are of no interest to us”

The council stated: "As the majority of our employees are not trade union members (approximately 5% in the GMB ) we reserve the right to discuss workforce terms and conditions with our Employee Forum as well as trade unions. Our consultation began on 1 December and ends 31 January 2018. We will continue to offer highly competitive sick pay entitlement of up to 6 months at full pay and an additional 6 months at half pay. The proposals will apply to all staff at the council, currently 2,740 employees.”

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