MOPAC – And How They Just Keep Giving

Well, that’s giving in a taking sort of way really. I must thank @TanyaSmith67 for bringing this matter to my attention, it had completely passed me by.  I’ll stop writing about it just as soon as Boris and co let me, honest I will.

Not content with selling off huge chunks of the Met’ s Estate (and I know there are those of you out there who aren’t quite as outraged as us at Angry Towers) but Boris’ deputy, Steve Greenhalgh, has found himself another controversy to get involved in.

Being in charge of the MOPAC/MPS estates strategy, Greenhalgh has endorsed, if not decided upon,.the sale of certain properties within the estate deemed ‘Surplus to Requirements’.  Last week, a mayoral press release said Greenhalgh had “intervened” to stop the sale of the Raynesfield homes in Raynes Park, “I was not happy with how they had been treated,” said Greenhalgh of Raynesfield’s residents. “I was not prepared to see key workers like nurses, carers and teachers forced to move out of their homes.”  In August it had been reported that “Nurses and school workers facing eviction from their police-owned homes say they are being “cleansed” from the borough due to a lack of affordable housing.

Key workers living at Raynesfield in Raynes Park and 30 Griffiths Road in Wimbledon will be evicted from their flats by the end of the year after the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) sold the land. The sale forms part of Boris Johnson’s long-term estate strategy to sell off properties and invest profits back into frontline policing.

Residents of the two estates, mostly on low salaries, will now have to leave the borough because they neither earn enough to rent privately nor meet criteria to qualify for social housing.”

Well, I have to say that I was completely unaware that the Met owned residential properties that were rented out to others, I was only aware of the Section Houses and Married Quarters.  Presumably these are ex Married Quarters that have been vacated by the officers, under whatever circumstances, and put onto the rental market. What do other Forces do?

The same thing happened in Hammersmith, where MOPAC owns a block of flats called Broadmead. Greenhalgh said he had been “very shocked” to learn that Broadmead’s residents might be turfed out and that he’d discovered this “all because” Tory councillors in his old borough had brought the tenants’ situation to his notice.

So I’m beginning to see the pattern now, Greenhalgh decides to sell off the Met-owned residential properties, that are now managed by a Housing Association and occupied by key workers or others on low income.  Then, when he hears that they residents are to be displaced (whatever did he think was going to happen to them?) he steps in top prevent it and everybody hails him as a hero.

Apparently Deputy Mayor Greenhalgh still wants those homes sold, but says this will now only happen if the new owner can offer existing tenants “similar or better terms” than they presently enjoy, ensuring that they can afford to stay, rather than selling the sites vacant on the open market for as much money as possible.

Tom Copley calls for apology from Deputy Mayor for Policing

So what is he playing at? I seen to recall that his political career has been dogged by controversy of one kind or another, and nothing seems to have changed.  He now seems to be quite happy to put people in fear of being evicted from their reasonably priced homes, then mounting his blue stallion and charging in to save them from the fate that he himself had instigated.

Or is that just the jaundiced view of a cynical duffer?

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Has The Apocalyptic Horseman Risen Like The Phoenix?

Is that a Mixed Metaphor?

Is Anarchy breaking out within MOPAC and/or the Met?

So many questions for a Monday morning, and I am aware that I am far from being the only person asking them.

BoJo’s Policing SPAD has been suspiciously quiet since his notorious and ill-judged Four Horseman of the Apocalypse Tweet (sorry Mr Gibbs, I won’t forget it and why should I?), but recently we have seen two absolute crackers come out of BoJo Towers and/or BHH.

Firstly, in a fine display of unilateralism, the likes of which I have seldom seen, we have Boris announcing the purchase of two Water Cannon for the people of London.  They still haven’t been signed off by Cruella as far as I know, but you Londoners can have them anyway.  As a major strategic resource it is unthinkable that BoJo’s SPAD will not have been involved in that decision.

Now today we have the ground-breaking announcement that recruitment of Constables into the Met will be open only to the residents of Greater London (within the M25 basically).

Now this causes me several problems really.

1,  Why only Constables?  If this is really such a good idea why not apply it to ALL ranks.

2.  The Metropolitan Police Farce proudly declares itself as an Equal Opportunities Employer.  Really?  Bernie Hogan-Who has previously admitted that his in favour of Positive Discrimination, but this just takes the argument to a whole new level.   Can the genuine needs of the Met be realised from recruiting solely from the Greater London Area.  Neither Bernie the Ostrich nor BoJo are Londoners themselves I believe.  What is it that Londoners bring to the party that is so important at Constable level (absolutely no offence intended)

Boris says “Every police officer is always and will always be selected on merit, but there is more than enough talent in this great city to give the Met all the devoted and skilled new recruits they need to go on keeping Londoners safe.”  Really?  Then the Met should have never suffered any recruitment problems and all the excellent members from outside the M25 were really never needed then?

3. The policy change will not affect serving officers, existing MPS police staff, members of the Special Constabulary, or existing police officers seeking to transfer from other UK forces.  Not that I have a problem with transfers in from another Force, but why are they an exception?  Is this an indication that the policy might not actually be lawful?  Conservatives are, after all, renowned for their unlawful policies.

4.  And this really is my biggest problem with it.  The Metropolitan Police Service intends to recruit 5,000 new Police Constables before 2016.  Boris Johnson wants to keep police numbers around 32,000.  In March 2013 there were 30,398 Constables in the Met.  This is approx 3,000 fewer than March 2010.  The Home Office have ‘helpfully’ changed the format for their twice-yearly Policing Strength stats and no longer include the breakdown by rank (oh, I wonder why), all I can tell you is that by September 2013 the TOTAL strength of the Met was down to 30,631.  Under it’s plans for dealing with ‘Austerity’ the MPS has a plan in place to reduce its TOTAL strength to 31,960 by March 2015.

So, I come back to the point I have made several times before, and the the Met, MOPAC and the government have taken absolutely no notice;  if the 2015 target is 31,960, why are we now at 30,631, a level lower than is targeted. Why are senior Police Officers and politicians, once again, playing games with the figures/  They did it with #CrimeStats and now they’re doing it with Policing Strength.  London presumably needs a certain number of Poilice Officers to keep it safe. So why would you deliberately go below that level and announce it was your intention to recruit 5,000 more?  Not that 5,000 is a realistic figure because the difference between current and planned establishments is much less than 5,000 and we all know that more cuts are planned for post 2015.  MOPAC’s latest TOTAL establishment figure for the Met is May 2014 and showed  30,945.

Cynical, risky, reckless, downright criminal.  They are playing with the safety of their residents and Tax Payers?  If you cut Blair Gibbs in half I suspect you would find Policy Exchange running all the way through.  Another major policy that I find inconceivable that he was not involved with.  Are we now witnessing the rising of Phoenix Gibbs from the Bonfire of the Vanities?

This tells me everything I need to know about MOPAC and the Met.  They have changed into a team of game-players.  Maybe BHH, BoJo and Blair will be appearing on Big Brother sometime soon.