Labour have accused Boris Johnson’s policing deputy of issuing “misleading” statements about his role in stopping the sale of residential properties owned by the Met.
Stephen Greenhalgh, head of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), sanctioned the sale as part of a wider disposal strategy which has seen dozens of Met buildings sold off to help meet funding cuts.
However a press release issued last week by MOPAC claimed Greenhalgh had “intervened” to stop the sale and implied he had been unaware that many of the tenants are key workers.
In fact a number of London Assembly members, including Labour’s Tom Copley, had raised concerns with the Mayor and his deputy about the sale and highlighted the key worker status of residents.
The press release made no mention of these interventions, instead claiming Mr Greenhalgh had only become fully aware of the situation after local conservative politicians had contacted him.
In the press release Mr Greenhalgh is quoted as saying “I was not happy with how they had been treated and I was not prepared to see key workers like nurses, carers and teachers, forced to move out of their homes.”
Mr Copley has now written to the deputy mayor to raise concerns about the “misleading” tone of the press release.
The letter states: “It was your decision as Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime to sign off the MOPAC 2013-16 Estates Strategy which led to the 18 households moving and the (very real) threat of eviction to the remaining households.
“These facts have been known to you for some time – you signed the Estates Strategy and this has been raised with you on numerous occasions by politicians and residents alike, yet you have consistently refused to change your mind until this point.”
Copley’s letter goes to accuse the deputy mayor of a “blatant attempt at spinning a story to claim political credit, thereby not only misleading the public but also hugely insulting to all those residents who have campaigned to save these homes.”
Challenging the claim that Greenhalgh was “not happy” with the tenants’ treatment, the the Assembly Member adds: “it was your Estates Strategy and your Department that put them in this precarious position of uncertainty in the first place.
“Many residents have been forced to live out of boxes as the eviction date approached, and others had already left. There is no doubt that your unwillingness to reconsider this decision earlier has led to over six months of anxiety and uncertainty for all the residents involved.”
Mr Copley has urged the deputy mayor to “apologise to the residents for trying to claim credit from their case, and shamelessly using their plight to promote yourself and your colleagues.”
He also wants an assurance that tenants who vacated their homes under the threat of eviction will be allowed to return and compensated for their inconvenience.