Scotland Yard could soon disappear from London’s tourist map as the cash-strapped Metropolitan Police Service (Met) is considering selling off its historic headquarters in Victoria Street to raise money.

The surprise move, announced on Tuesday, prompted comparisons with impoverished “nabobs” of yesteryears forced to pawn the family silver to get through hard times. One senior police officer likened it to losing the Crown Jewels.

Officially known as New Scotland Yard and home to the Met for more than half a century, it derives its name from a street called Great Scotland Yard, the site of the original Met headquarters. Its revolving blue neon sign, regarded as one of London’s most recognisable sights, apocryphally does 14,000 revolutions a day. If the plan,goes ahead, the Met will move to a smaller building nearby; though it is not clear whether it will carry the New Scotland Yard sign with it.

Sweeping budget cuts

The move, forced by sweeping anti-recession budget cuts ordered by the Mayor’s office, is expected to help the Met save £500 million over the next two and a half years.

John Tully, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said it was “regrettable” that “an iconic building like New Scotland Yard is going to bite the dust”.

Announcing the plan, Met’s deputy commissioner Craig Mackey said it was “an expensive building to run”.

“New Scotland Yard costs £11 million a year to run and we now need to invest over £50 million into it,” he said.

The move came days after another of London’s tourist landmarks — the 100-year-old Admiralty Arch on the Mall just yards from Buckingham Palace — was sold to a Spanish investor for £60 million to build a luxury hotel. Nothing, critics said, seemed safe as the government pressed ahead with its controversial austerity policy to beat the recession.

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