Brent and Harrow
5 May 2016 Vote for
Sadiq Khan Mayor of London
Navin Shah GLA Brent & Harrow
Labour Party Londonwide

London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority

The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) is the democratic body responsible for overseeing the London Fire Brigade. LFEPA is a functional body of the GLA family but democratic governance of the London Fire Brigade is not new. Prior to the establishment of the GLA in 2000, LFEPA was known as the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority (LFCDA) and was part of the GLC until its abolition in 1986, after which it stood alone as a city wide body.

Currently, the Mayor appoints Assembly Members, 2 Independent Mayoral Appointees and Councillors from London Boroughs to LFEPA in proportion to the number of Councillors from each party across London's 32 local authorities and the City of London. The 17 members include 8 Assembly appointments, 7 Council appointments and 2 direct Mayoral appointments. Prior to 2008 I served on LFEPA in my capacity as a Councillor for about two years. I was Leader of the Labour Group at LFEPA from 2008 - 2013.

You can find out more about the London Fire Brigade and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority at the official website.

 

LFEPA News

Proposal for Transport for London to take immediate control of Southern Rail

Immediate release
20.07.2016 

 

Responding to the Mayor of London’s call for Transport for London to take immediate control of Southern Rail, Local London Assembly Member, Navin Shah AM, said:

 

“Of course this is the right step to take. When passengers are paying out a lot of money in fares, it’s anger-inducing that they are receiving such a poor service.

 

“Government’s weak approach to tackling Southern over their staffing issues and sub-standard performance has left passengers in purgatory. A TfL takeover is a sensible step towards addressing the problems plaguing Southern, which the government have so far been content to kick into the long grass.”

Mayor of London urged to back Deaf Londoners

Mayor of London urged to back Deaf Londoners

 

The Mayor of London has been asked to sign up to a Charter which could improve the lives of Deaf Londoners. Local London Assembly Member, Navin Shah, put forward a motion at a meeting of the London Assembly last week which called on the Mayor to sign up to the British Sign Language (BSL) Charter, aimed at improving access to services for BSL users and raising awareness of the disability. Mr Shah said raising awareness was the first step to ensuring Deaf people “can truly enjoy everything London has to offer”.

 

Last Wednesday (1st March) Navin Shah AM proposed a motion at a London Assembly meeting urging the Mayor of London to sign up to the BSL Charter. The Charter, launched by the British Deaf Association, is aimed at raising awareness of Deaf issues, empowering Deaf people, and improving access to services. The motion, which was backed unanimously by Assembly Members called on Boris Johnson to promote the Charter and embody its principles in his London-wide equalities strategies.

Harrow has recently become the second London Borough Council to sign up the BSL Charter with Harrow United Deaf Club.

Local London Assembly Member, Navin Shah AM, said:

“London is a welcoming, friendly city, but there is still more that we can do to make it accessible for everyone who lives here.

 

“It’s hugely important that we take every step possible to raise awareness of this disability so that Deaf people can truly enjoy everything London has to offer. That means addressing discrimination, intentional or not, and it means improving access to services and support.

 

“I proudly support Harrow Council’s endorsement of the BSL Charter and I will be continuing to actively work with Harrow United Deaf Club to encourage others to sign up. We’ve taken the first step with getting the London Assembly’s backing, now it’s time for Boris to show his support too.”

Boris Johnson’s Special Constable pledge in tatters as numbers plummet 57% in Brent & 47% in Harrow

Boris Johnson’s Special Constable pledge in tatters as numbers plummet 57% in Brent & 47% in Harrow

 

The Mayor of London’s promise to “double the number of Special Officers to 10,000” looks to be in tatters after the Met’s latest figures showed that there are now only 3,253 Specials in the capital, 43% fewer than in May 2012 when he made the pledge. In Brent the number fell 57% from 175 in May 2012 to only 76 in December 2015. In Harrow the number fell 47% from 138 in May 2012 to only 73 in December 2015.

 

Special constables are volunteer police officers with all the powers of police officers. The falling number of special constables comes on top of significant cuts to the number of police community support officers (PCSOs) over the past few years. Met statistics show that in Brent since 2010 135 PCSOs and 703 Police officers have been cut from the streets, 29% of the original number. Labour London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow Navin Shah, warned that the cumulative impact of the drop in Specials, PCSOs and police officers risks leaving a “much reduced police force for his successor.”

 

When the Mayor was re-elected in May 2012 there were 5,677 Specials in London, according to the latest figures there are now only 3,253. The figures represent an embarrassing failure for the Mayor who previously said that Specials represented a ‘vital link’ between the police and the public.

  

Labour London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah AM said:

 

“In 2012 Boris recognised the significant role Special Constables play in providing an important link between the police and public and bolstering our police service. Despite his promise to double their ranks what we’ve actually seen is a dramatic and continuing fall in the number of Special Constables, including in Brent which has seen a 29% decline. At this rate he may well have less than half of what he started with by the time he leaves office.

 

“With PCSO and police officer numbers also in decline, the falling number of Specials should be of real concern. Boris should be asking why the Met is failing to attract enough people, is it because the opportunities are not well enough advertised or is the increasing pressure facing the police putting people off?

 

“Between the drop in Special and PCSO numbers, Boris looks set to leave a much reduced police force for his successor.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes

-       Figures on Police Officer and PCSO numbers can be found here.

-       A breakdown of the decline in Special Constables between 2012 and 2015 can be found below:

 

Month-Year

Brent

Special Constables

MPS Total

 
 

May-12

175

5,677

 

Dec-15

76

3,253

 

Decrease in Special Constables since May 2012

99

2,424

 

% loss

57%

43%

 


Source: Met datastore, accessed 02 March 2016

-       A breakdown of the decline in Police Officers and PCSOs between 2010 and 2015 can be found below:

 

 

Brent

MPS Total

 

Officers May 2010

703

33,147

PCSOs May 2010

135

4489

Uniformed Officers May 2010

838

37,636

Officers Dec 15

579

31,612

PCSOs Dec 15

16

1,663

Total Uniformed Officers Dec 2015

595

33,275

 

 

 

 

 

Police Officer Number decline since May 10

124

1,535

Police Officer % decline since May 10

18%

5%

 

 

 

 

 

PCSO Decline since May 10

119

2,826

PCSO % Decline since May 10

88%

63%

 

 

 

 

Uniformed Officer Decline May 10

243

4,361

% Uniformed Officer Decline

29%

13%

Source: Met datastore, accessed 02 March 2016

-       In his 2012 Crime Manifesto, available here, Boris Johnson wrote “I will aim to double the current number of Special Constables further to 10,000. Their remit will be to work in the evenings, on the transport network and with Safer Neighbourhood Teams.” (page 13)

-       In the same document the Mayor said Specials were a “vital link between the police and the public, strengthening the consent and support on which the police rely.” (page 13)

 
 

Boris overruling the Fire Authority and axing 13 London fire engines is “irresponsible and dangerous”

LONDON ASSEMBLY LABOUR

Boris overruling the Fire Authority and axing 13 London fire engines is “irresponsible and dangerous”


Labour London Assembly Member Navin Shah has hit out at the Mayor of London after he said he would overrule the London Fire Authority after they voted not to scrap thirteen London fire engines, including one in Brent. The decision not to cut the fire engines was taken on Wednesday (17th) by members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) after a public consultation found 82% of respondents were opposed to the Mayor’s plan to axe thirteen London fire engines.

 

In a letter to LFEPA members on Thursday (18th) Boris Johnson’s Chief of Staff confirmed the Mayor would to use his powers to overrule the democratic Fire Authority’s decision, backed by the public consultation, not to scrap the thirteen fire engines.

 

The consultation results published last week revealed that 70% of the 1,478 respondents supported fully funded alternative proposals (Option A) put forward by Andrew Dismore AM, which would retain the 13 fire engines and make the required savings by changing the way some engines are crewed, allowing one crew to run different types of fire appliance to ensure all of the Fire Brigade’s current engines are able to stay in service. Only 18% of respondents supported Option B which would see the 13 fire engines scrapped.

 

In January 2014 the Mayor’s last round of cuts to the Fire Brigade saw him order the closure of 10 fire stations with the loss of 14 fire engines. Following the closures London saw a significant increase in response times with rises in 401 of London’s 654 wards when compared with the year before the cuts were forced through.

 

Labour London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah AM, said:

 

“The Fire Authority has made it clear that we, like the majority of the public, don’t support axing London fire engines, when safer alternatives exist. It’s outrageous that the Mayor now intends to trample over both the democratic decision of the Fire Authority and the very clear message sent by the public against scrapping these vital fire engines."

 

“Axing these thirteen fire engines will lead to a less safe London with fewer resources available to respond to serious incidents. We’ve already seen response times go up since Boris’ last round of cuts. When there is a viable and fully funded alternative on the table, trampling over public opinion and scrapping these fire engines is irresponsible and dangerous.”

 

ENDS

Permanent link to this article
20th February 2016

Revealed: More fire engines face Boris’ axe

Proposals from the Fire Brigade Commissioner to scrap 13 London Fire Engines faced fierce opposition this week when they were debated at a Resources Committee meeting of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA). 

At the meeting LFEPA members received proposals from the Commissioner which included scrapping 13 more fire engines from London’s fleet. The proposals are part of the Fire Brigade’s plans to deal with the £13.2 million Mayor Boris Johnson cut from its budget.

In preparation for any decision to axe the 13 fire engines the Fire Brigade has prepared two lists of stations from which the 13 fire engines could be taken. 13 engines have already been temporarily withdrawn from service but the Fire Brigade has yet to confirm whether these would be the same 13 which will eventually be axed if the cuts go ahead and have also created a list identifying the optimum stations from which to axe the engines. The final decision on the cuts will be taken in December with the Mayor having the final say.

Alternative proposals put forward by Labour Chair of the Fire Authority’s Resources Committee Andrew Dismore AM would see the 13 fire engines returned to their base stations along with a range of back office efficiencies and further re-prioritisations to meet the budget gap. The proposals also include extending alternate crewing arrangements for some of the special appliances which are called out far less frequently than regular fire engines.

In January 2014 the Mayor forced through the closure of 10 London fire stations and axed 14 fire engines. Subsequently response times across the capital rose.

There is little doubt that the Mayor’s plan to axe another 13 fire engines could have dire consequences for Londoners and would put lives at risk.

Londoners need to know that there are clear and costed alternatives available that would protect the frontline and which the Mayor must seriously consider if he wants to protect the safety of the capital.

With Boris’ pledge to protect the frontline already in tatters, the fear is that he will have no problem breaking it further to axe yet more vital resources.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

 

-       The two lists of options prepared by the LFB for Boris Johnson on removing 13 fire engines from London stations are available here:

13 fire stations with pumps currently withdrawn

 

Optimum 13 fire stations from which to remove pumps

Erith

 LB Bexley

West Hampstead

 LB Camden

Willesden

 LB Brent

Norbury

 LB Croydon

Ealing

 LB Ealing

Ealing

 LB Ealing

Shoreditch

 LB Hackney

East Greenwich

 LB Greenwich

Romford

 LB Havering

Shoreditch

 LB Hackney

Holloway

 LB Islington

Hammersmith

 LB Hammersmith

Chelsea

 LB Kensington and Chelsea

Romford

 LB Havering

Forest Hill

 LB Lewisham

Forest Hill

 LB Lewisham

Plaistow

 LB Newham

Stratford

 LB Newham

Stratford

 LB Newham

Old Kent Road

 LB Southwark

Old Kent Road

 LB Southwark

Wandsworth

 LB Wansdworth

Poplar

 LB Tower Hamlets

Sidcup

LB Bexley

Wandsworth

 LB Wandsworth

Hornsey

LB Haringey

 

-       In January 2014 the Mayor closed 10 fire stations and axed 14 fire engines.

-       Details of Andrew Dismore AM’s alternative amendment to the Fire Brigade Budget are available here.

-       The LFEPA Resources Committee meeting was held at 10.30am on Thursday 12th November at City Hall.

-       Boris Johnson is making £13.2m of cuts to the London Fire Brigade for the 2016/17 financial year.

Permanent link to this article
12th November 2015

PENSIONS STRIKE: PICKETS IN BRENT

This afternoon I've visited 2 pickets, first in Wembly and then at Willesden Green Fire Stations in my GLA constituency.

1. Wembley Picket 25.9.11.JPG

The latter one had crews from Willesden, Park Royal and Wembley. I was delighted to see the incredible support from the members of public - drivers hooting in support as the cars drove past and pedestrains stopping by to say thank you to the firefighters and wishing them success in the fight against the pension scheme. On radio too all I've heard last night and today people supporting the fire fighters on pension issues as well as speaking up against closure of fire stations and lashing out at the Mayor for not listening to Londoners. People are with firefighters and so am I on pensions as well as fire stations.

2. Willesden Green Picket 25.9.11.JPG

 

Permanent link to this article
25th September 2013

Pressure on Boris to stop cuts to Fire Service

Local London Assembly Member Navin Shah today voted for a motion urging the Mayor of London to fully fund the London Fire Brigade to stop the closure of 10 fire stations. The London Assembly voted to call on Boris to reconsider his proposals to close 10 fire stations and cut 14 fire engines and draw up measures that avoid the need for cuts to the fire service in London.

Last week the Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) voted down the Mayor of London’s cuts agenda and put forward an amendment that the Mayor should fully fund the London Fire Brigade to keep the current provision of fire stations and engines. The Mayor is seeking advice as to whether he direct LFEPA to implement his cuts and disregard LFEPA’s decision.

Edited photo of Navin in the chamber.jpg

The Mayor must reconsider his position, drop his plans to close 10 fire stations and fully fund the London Fire Brigade. We have seen an unprecedented level of engagement and response against Boris’s cuts to the London Fire Brigade. If he wants to, let the Mayor play with the fire but we are not prepared to sign up for this reckless plan.

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. London Fire Brigade Cuts Motion, 24 July 2013:

Motion in the name of Fiona Twycross AM seconded by Valerie Shawcross AM:

This Assembly condemns the financial constraints being imposed on the London Fire Brigade by the Mayor that led to proposals to close fire stations and cut fire engines.

This Assembly therefore supports the decision by the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority to reject the proposed cuts to the London Fire Brigade.  These cuts were rejected by:

  • Over 1,300 Londoners who attended the 24 meetings
  • The 21,770 Londoners who signed 13 petitions opposing the plans
  • And 94% of the online consultation responses received by the London Fire Brigade

We call on the Mayor to provide the necessary funding to enable the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority to maintain the front line response service that the population of this city demand.

 

Boris forces through fire cuts

It was revealed today that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will continue to force through his cuts to the London Fire Brigade. The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) will meet next week to vote on the Mayor’s plans. The documents for that meeting – which were published this afternoon – show that the Mayor has backed down and will not close Clapham and New Cross Fire Stations. However, he will continue to try and force the rest of fire cuts through.

The Mayor wanted to close 12 fire stations, cut 18 fire engines and axe 520 firefighters. The updated plans released today show that Clapham will stay open, but will lose one of its two fire engines; Chelsea Fire Station will keep both of its fire engines; East Greenwich Fire Station will receive a second fire engine; and New Cross Fire Station will remain. This now means that 10 fire stations will still close with the total loss of 14 fire engines.

The stations that are now planned to close are Belsize, Bow, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich.

The stations that will still lose a fire engine are: Chingford, Hayes, Leyton, Leytonstone, Peckham and Whitechapel.

I’m pleased that the Mayor has listened to local residents and has scrapped his reckless plans to close Clapham and New Cross Fire Stations. However, he needs to keep open the other 10 fire stations and 14 fire engines that he is trying to cut. At public meetings Londoners spoke with one voice against these cuts. Why has Boris not listened to Londoners fully and saved the other stations and engines as well? This looks like he is trying to divert attention from his other cuts, but we will keep fighting them as they are totally unnecessary.

We all know that savings have to be made, but the London Fire Brigade has already saved £66million from the back office. Boris is cutting too far and all to fund his penny a day council tax cut. What would you prefer, a penny a day or a fully funded fire service that can respond to incidents more quickly?

Public meetings have shown that Londoners are fearful for the safety of the areas where they live and work. They are understandably worried about injuries and fatalities from fire. I am deeply disappointed that Boris has failed to protect London’s fire brigade by scrapping his plans. He has let Londoners down with his plan to close 10 fire stations and axe 14 fire engines, after all this is about the protection of the whole of London.

Deadline for members of the public to ask questions on the draft fifth London Safety Plan

There will be an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions on the draft fifth London Safety Plan at the next London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority meeting that takes place after the consultation has ended, on 20th June.  To ask a question, the Clerk must be told by 2.30pm on Monday 10th June 2013.  If you are interested in asking a question at the Authority meeting, please email me at Navin.Shah@london.gov.uk or by phone (020 7983 4876).

Boris slammed for no-show at fire cuts meeting

I supported a motion today slamming the Mayor of London Boris Johnson for refusing to attend the fire cuts public meetings. The motion condemns Boris for snubbing the meetings where he would have had the opportunity to make the argument for the cuts he has demanded from the London Fire Brigade.  

Londoners are invited to challenge Boris Johnson directly next week on his proposed cuts to the London Fire Brigade as well as cuts to the Metropolitan Police and London’s housing crisis at the annual State of London debate held at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster.

The consultation on the Draft Fifth London Safety Plan finishes on 17 June. Residents can also contribute to the consultation through the Fire Authority website, where more details are available: http://london-fire.gov.uk/lsp5

It is deplorable that the Mayor has imposed these cuts after many members of the London Fire Authority and London Assembly had clearly signalled that the level of cuts proposed by him were totally unnecessary. We gave the Mayor a fully costed plan to keep these much needed front line services but he has chosen to continue with his misjudged plans.

Londoners have a final opportunity to challenge the Mayor directly about his cuts to the emergency services, the cost of living in London, and London’s housing crisis at next week’s State of London debate. Boris has refused to attend any of the fire cuts public meetings to make the argument for the cuts he has demanded from the London Fire Brigade. He has made life harder for Londoners and they have a right to be angry.

Hard-working Londoners are struggling to afford daily life in what is one of the most expensive cities in the world. The Mayor gets a lot of media attention for what he says but not nearly enough attention is paid to what he does, or in most cases hasn’t done for London. This is a chance to take Boris to task and let him know what you think his priorities should be for London.

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. The State of London debate is taking place on Wednesday 12 June at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, SW1H 9NH. Doors will open at 6:30pm and the event will run from 7:30pm – 9:00pm. To apply for tickets go to http://talklondon.london.gov.uk/events/state-london-debate
  2. Today’s Plenary session can be found here: http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/london-assembly/webcasts
    1. The motion is below:
 

Mover: Cllr Navin Shah AM 

Seconder: Stephen Knight AM

Draft 5th London Safety Plan Public Consultation

 

This Assembly notes the draft 5th London Safety Plan contains the proposal to close 12 fire stations, cut 18 fire engines and axe 520 firefighter posts as a direct result of the financial constraints being imposed on the Fire Brigade by the Mayor.

 

This Assembly deplores the fact that the public consultation on the cuts to the London Fire Brigade is being imposed on the Authority following the Mayoral direction, implemented on 31st January 2013.

 

This Assembly regrets that the Mayor has refused to attend the public meetings to make the argument for the cuts he has demanded from the London Fire Brigade. 

 

This Assembly is also concerned at the overall co-ordination of the consultation process, which has resulted in widely inconsistent levels of public participation at the meetings in different boroughs.

Are bus services in London up to scratch?

The London Assembly has launched an in-depth investigation into bus services in London as passenger numbers rise and investment into bus services has flat-lined. Local London Assembly Member Navin Shah wants residents in Brent and Harrow to share their experiences of bus travel in London to improve and strengthen the service offered by Transport for London.

 

London’s population grew by one million between 2001 and 2011 and is expected to continue to rise at the same rate over the next 10 years. TfL saw an estimated 49.5million journeys made between 28 April and 4 May on London buses, half of all bus journeys made in the rest of England combined.

 Transport for London recently celebrated a record-breaking week for the number of bus journeys made in one week yet the Mayor is already considering slashing the annual bus subsidy. Investment to improve and expand bus services has flat-lined under Boris and as London’s population is growing at a rate equivalent to two full buses each day, we need to find out how Londoners will travel around the capital and what their opinions of bus services are.

Residents can share their good and bad experiences by filling in a short survey on bus services in London and attending the public meeting on 6 June at City Hall. We need bus users help to ensure the London Assembly puts forward strong recommendations to the Mayor on how we can make bus services in London suit the needs of the people that use them.

TfL’s business plan does not provide for expansion of the bus network, and unless plans are secured to deal with extra passengers, London buses run the risk of entering a period of decline.

Ends

Notes

  1. Details of bus services in London survey and public meeting can be found here: http://www.london.gov.uk/get-involved/events/bus-services-in-london-public-meeting

London’s most deprived areas hit hardest by Mayor’s fire cuts

New analysis has revealed that the most deprived wards in London will be hit hardest by the proposed cuts to the London Fire Brigade. Of the 100 most deprived wards in London 76 of them will have an increase in the time it takes for the first fire engine to arrive, and 82 of them will see an increase in the time for the second fire engine to arrive at an incident. I carried out the research and challenged Boris Johnson about the findings at Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall.

 Of the 184 least deprived wards in London 38 (or 20%) will see an increase in the attendance time for the first fire engine to arrive at an incident. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is planning to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters. A public consultation is currently underway and will run until 17th June 2013.

This research shows that it is the poorest Londoners who will be hit hardest by the Mayor’s reckless cuts to our frontline fire service. The London Fire Brigade’s own plan admits there is a link between fire and deprivation. The increase in attendance times across London are bad enough, but it is truly scandalous that the poorest Londoners will be put at greater risk. All because the Mayor wants to cut the council tax by a penny a day.

I urge all Londoners to speak up and respond to the Mayor’s consultation and tell him what they think. His plans to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters are simply unacceptable. We presented him with a fully costed plan to keep them all open, but he has chosen to ignore us. While these increases in response times might appear small, across our city every second counts and can be the difference between life and death. It is more urgent than ever that Londoners tell the Mayor what they think. The Mayor might be prepared to take a risk with Londoners’ safety, but we are not. He must take Londoners for complete fools if he thinks he can get away with this.

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. The attached table details the 100 most deprived wards in London and the increase in attendance times for first and second fire engines. Source for deprivation statistics: http://data.london.gov.uk/datastore/package/indices-deprivation-2010  and source for fire engine attendance times: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/Documents/ward-impacts.pdf
  2. Mayor’s Question Time took place at City Hall from 10am on Wednesday 22nd May 2013. A webcast can be watched here: http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/london-assembly/webcasts

Fire brigade statistics blow hole in Mayor’s case for fire cuts

The London Fire Brigade have released details of increased response times for local wards in London. The statistics reveal that 41 local wards in London will now fall outside of the target response time, due to the Mayor’s decision to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters. The wards include areas across London, including some of the most deprived places in London like Bow, and Woolwich but also more affluent areas like Brompton Ward in Kensington.

The information was quietly released onto the London Fire Brigade’s website late yesterday (Tuesday). So far 11 boroughs have had their formal consultation meetings with the Fire Brigade, despite the fact they were not provided with these detailed figures which for the first time reveal the full impact of the Mayor’s cuts.

The details show that residents in an additional 41 wards in London will fall outside of the target response time of six minutes for the first fire engine. This is on top of the 267 already falling outside the target.

These figures clearly show that the Mayor has been misleading Londoners, his cuts will mean that people across our city will have to wait significantly longer for a fire engine to arrive in the event of an emergency. In Bow East the increase is from four to seven minutes, Brompton in Kensington will increase from 4.5 to 6.5 minutes and  in Clapham Town it increases from just under four minutes to nearly eight. This might not sound a lot but a fire can quadruple in intensity every two minutes. These increases are truly scandalous, no wonder they didn’t release this information sooner. This completely blows a hole in the Mayor’s plans for fire cuts, he must abandon them now and adopt our fully costed plan to keep them all open.

This shows how flawed the Mayor’s Draft Fire Plan is, the borough response times in the plan hide these local increases, which are disgraceful. The Mayor’s plans to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters are unacceptable. We presented him with a fully costed plan to keep them all, instead he has chosen to cut council tax by one penny a day. While a small amount to individual Londoners, across our city this adds up and will lead to a huge cut in our valued fire service. It is more urgent than ever that Londoners respond to the Mayor’s consultation and tell him what they think. Boris must take Londoners for complete fools if he thinks he can get away with this.

Bromley: Plaistow & Sunridge (5.33 – 6.06) 33seconds increase

Camden: Belsize (4.37 – 7.59) 3.22mins increase; Camden Town with Primrose Hill (5.23 – 6.27) 1.04mins increase; Gospel Oak (5.27 – 6.11) 44 seconds increase; Hampstead Town (5.07 – 6.46) 1.39mins increase; Haverstock (5.15-6.16) 1.01 mins increase; Swiss Cottage (5.19-6.45) 1.26mins increase

City of London: Aldersgate (5.22-6.03) 41secs increase; Castle Baynard (5.35-6.17) 42secs increase; Cheap (5.56-6.15) 19secs increase; Farringdon without (5.10 – 6.08) 58secs increase

Greenwich: Woolwich Common (5.32 – 6.36) 1.04mins increase; Woolwich Riverside (4.57 – 7.26) 2.29mins increase

Hackney: Dalston (5.18 – 6.59) 1.41mins increase; De Beauvoir (4.24 – 7.37) 3.13mins increase; New River (5.56 – 6.01) 5secs increase; Queensbridge (5.00 – 6.43) 1.43mins increase

Islington:  Clerkenwell (4.19 – 6.26) 2.07mins increase; Mildmay (5.44-6.41) 57secs increase

Kensington & Chelsea: Brompton (4.37 – 6.27) 1.50mins increase

Lambeth: Clapham Common (4.50-7.47) 2.57mins increase; Clapham Town (3.56-7.53) 3.57mins increase

Lewisham: Catford South (5.29-6.13) 44secs increase; Downham (5.54-7.38) 1.44mins increase; Grove Park (5.10-6.27) 1.17mins increase; Telegraph Hill (5.15-7.24) 2.09mins increase; Whitefoot (5.08-7.57) 2.49mins increase

Newham: Canning Town North (5.58-6.11) 13secs increase; Canning Town South (5.29-6.11) 42secs increase; Royal Docks (5.27-8.39) 3.12mins increase

Tower Hamlets: Bow East (4.09-7.20) 3.11mins increase; Bow West (4.41-6.39) 1.58mins increase; Bromley-by-Bow (5.45-6.10) 25secs increase; Mile End East (5.26-6.18) 52secs increase

Wandsworth: Queenstown (5.25-6.45) 1.20mins increase

Westminster: Abbey Road (5.58 – 6.36) 38secs increase; Churchill (5.27-6.51) 1.24mins increase; Tachbrook (4.29-6.33) 2.04mins increase; Vincent Square (3.54-6.14) 2.20mins increase; Warwick (4.34-7.16) 2.42mins increase; West End (5.44-6.16) 32secs increase

Ends

Notes 

  1. A ward breakdown can be found here: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/Documents/ward-impacts.pdf

Fire brigade statistics blow hole in Mayor’s case for fire cuts

The London Fire Brigade have released details of increased response times for local wards in London. The statistics reveal that 41 local wards in London will now fall outside of the target response time, due to the Mayor’s decision to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters. The wards include areas across London, including some of the most deprived places in London like Bow, and Woolwich but also more affluent areas like Brompton Ward in Kensington.

The information was quietly released onto the London Fire Brigade’s website late yesterday (Tuesday). So far 11 boroughs have had their formal consultation meetings with the Fire Brigade, despite the fact they were not provided with these detailed figures which for the first time reveal the full impact of the Mayor’s cuts.

The details show that residents in an additional 41 wards in London will fall outside of the target response time of six minutes for the first fire engine. This is on top of the 267 already falling outside the target.

These figures clearly show that the Mayor has been misleading Londoners, his cuts will mean that people across our city will have to wait significantly longer for a fire engine to arrive in the event of an emergency. In Bow East the increase is from four to seven minutes, Brompton in Kensington will increase from 4.5 to 6.5 minutes and  in Clapham Town it increases from just under four minutes to nearly eight. This might not sound a lot but a fire can quadruple in intensity every two minutes. These increases are truly scandalous, no wonder they didn’t release this information sooner. This completely blows a hole in the Mayor’s plans for fire cuts, he must abandon them now and adopt our fully costed plan to keep them all open.

This shows how flawed the Mayor’s Draft Fire Plan is, the borough response times in the plan hide these local increases, which are disgraceful. The Mayor’s plans to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters are unacceptable. We presented him with a fully costed plan to keep them all, instead he has chosen to cut council tax by one penny a day. While a small amount to individual Londoners, across our city this adds up and will lead to a huge cut in our valued fire service. It is more urgent than ever that Londoners respond to the Mayor’s consultation and tell him what they think. Boris must take Londoners for complete fools if he thinks he can get away with this.

Bromley: Plaistow & Sunridge (5.33 – 6.06) 33seconds increase

Camden: Belsize (4.37 – 7.59) 3.22mins increase; Camden Town with Primrose Hill (5.23 – 6.27) 1.04mins increase; Gospel Oak (5.27 – 6.11) 44 seconds increase; Hampstead Town (5.07 – 6.46) 1.39mins increase; Haverstock (5.15-6.16) 1.01 mins increase; Swiss Cottage (5.19-6.45) 1.26mins increase

City of London: Aldersgate (5.22-6.03) 41secs increase; Castle Baynard (5.35-6.17) 42secs increase; Cheap (5.56-6.15) 19secs increase; Farringdon without (5.10 – 6.08) 58secs increase

Greenwich: Woolwich Common (5.32 – 6.36) 1.04mins increase; Woolwich Riverside (4.57 – 7.26) 2.29mins increase

Hackney: Dalston (5.18 – 6.59) 1.41mins increase; De Beauvoir (4.24 – 7.37) 3.13mins increase; New River (5.56 – 6.01) 5secs increase; Queensbridge (5.00 – 6.43) 1.43mins increase

Islington:  Clerkenwell (4.19 – 6.26) 2.07mins increase; Mildmay (5.44-6.41) 57secs increase

Kensington & Chelsea: Brompton (4.37 – 6.27) 1.50mins increase

Lambeth: Clapham Common (4.50-7.47) 2.57mins increase; Clapham Town (3.56-7.53) 3.57mins increase

Lewisham: Catford South (5.29-6.13) 44secs increase; Downham (5.54-7.38) 1.44mins increase; Grove Park (5.10-6.27) 1.17mins increase; Telegraph Hill (5.15-7.24) 2.09mins increase; Whitefoot (5.08-7.57) 2.49mins increase

Newham: Canning Town North (5.58-6.11) 13secs increase; Canning Town South (5.29-6.11) 42secs increase; Royal Docks (5.27-8.39) 3.12mins increase

Tower Hamlets: Bow East (4.09-7.20) 3.11mins increase; Bow West (4.41-6.39) 1.58mins increase; Bromley-by-Bow (5.45-6.10) 25secs increase; Mile End East (5.26-6.18) 52secs increase

Wandsworth: Queenstown (5.25-6.45) 1.20mins increase

Westminster: Abbey Road (5.58 – 6.36) 38secs increase; Churchill (5.27-6.51) 1.24mins increase; Tachbrook (4.29-6.33) 2.04mins increase; Vincent Square (3.54-6.14) 2.20mins increase; Warwick (4.34-7.16) 2.42mins increase; West End (5.44-6.16) 32secs increase

Ends

Notes 

  1. A ward breakdown can be found here: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/Documents/ward-impacts.pdf

No frontline fire cuts in next year’s budget

Today Boris Johnson’s plans to close 12 fire stations and axe 18 fire engines were set back. The move came after members of the London Fire Authority accepted that the 2013/14 budget will not include cuts to frontline services. Proposals put forward by Labour Assembly Member Andrew Dismore mean the frontline cuts will not take place in the next financial year (2013/14), and there will now be time for a full and wide ranging consultation with Londoners.

Following Labour’s motion at today’s Fire Authority Urgency Committee the immediate threat to London’s frontline fire services has now been lifted. Today’s move has created time for a meaningful and wide-ranging consultation with Londoners on the Mayor’s plans to axe 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters.

Today we have pushed back Boris’s frontline fire cuts. This means there is now time to consult with people across our city and hear what they think about Boris Johnson’s plans to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters. His plans are reckless and will jeopardise the long-term safety and security of Londoners.

Boris has been forced to take stock and delay his cuts which are too far and too fast. We will now hear what ordinary Londoners think about his plans and this will guide us in our battle to save our much needed frontline fire services. The men and women of the London Fire Brigade do a fantastic job protecting us when we need them most. Now it is our turn to stand up for them and the people they protect every day.”

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26th February 2013

Bully boy Boris needs to listen on fire cuts

On Friday the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Groups on the London Assembly agreed to alter the Mayor of London’s draft budget. The alteration, known formally as a ‘Technical Amendment’, forces the Mayor to review his budget. This is the first time for a decade this power has been used.

The changes made will force the Mayor to review freezing the council tax precept, rather than cutting it by 7pence per week for an average household. He has to report back to the London Assembly on 25th February. This would raise £9.4 million which will be used to keep all of the 12 fire stations open and 18 fire engines that are due to be cut. Monday’s vote at LFEPA relates specifically to the Mayoral Direction that Boris Johnson issued to impose his cuts on the London Fire Brigade. 

We are seeing yet more bully boy tactics from Boris Johnson over his planned fire cuts. The London Fire Authority has voted down the Mayor’s plans, reflecting the views of Londoners. We have presented him with a fully costed plan to keep all of London’s fire stations and fire engines. Only Boris could believe that closing 12 fire stations and axing 18 fire engines will improve the safety and security of Londoners.

Instead of threatening to sue us in court, the Mayor should come and speak to us and hear our plans to protect frontline emergency services. At the end of the day he is the Mayor of London and the buck stops with him. He has the power to keep these fire stations open and fire engines on the road. Rather than cutting council tax by 1p a day per household, he can freeze it and use the money to protect frontline emergency services. It’s up to him whether they are axed or not.”

Ends

Notes

1. The Mayor's threat to sue was reported late yesterday by the Evening Standard http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/boris-takes-legal-action-against-fire-authority-over-defiance-on-station-cuts-8491817.html

 

Permanent link to this article
13th February 2013

Boris repeats “sham” consultation for fire cuts

Boris Johnson was today criticised for over-ruling the London Fire Authority’s call for a full London-wide consultation on his proposed fire cuts. Yesterday the Mayor directed the London Fire Authority to make deep cuts and to consult on these changes. However, the consultation ordered by Boris will not include public meetings in each London borough, and will repeat many of the mistakes of the “sham” consultations being held for police cuts.

Boris knows Londoners are against his planned fire cuts, now he is trying to make it harder for them to have their say. At yesterday’s Mayor’s Question Time he was repeatedly asked, but he failed to commit to attend a single public meeting to explain his plans to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters. He hasn’t attended any public meetings about his police cuts either. He is hiding behind his senior officers and deputies. He is the Mayor of London and the buck stops with him.

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31st January 2013

999 services "devastated" in Brent and Harrow

Mayor of London Boris Johnson was confronted yesterday by local Labour London Assembly Member Navin Shah about cuts to emergency services in Brent and Harrow. Emergency services are being “devastated” with the proposed closure of Pinner and Civic Centre (Counter) police stations in Harrow, Willesden Green and Harlesden police station in Brent and the Central Middlesex A&E Hospital in Brent which will be putting the safety of Londoners at risk.

The Mayor is accused of holding ‘sham consultations’ across London for his draft Police and Crime Plan. The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh has attended the consultations in Brent and Harrow but as yet the Mayor has not attended any of the consultation sessions.

Across London, 999 services are being threatened:

  • The London Fire Brigade’s budget has been cut by the Mayor and government by £45 million for the next two years. Boris Johnson wants to close 12 fire stations, lose 18 fire appliances and axe 520 firefighter posts
  • London Ambulance Service is currently being cut by £53 million (19%) of it’s budget by 2015/16, resulting in 890 job cuts, of which 560 will be frontline jobs
  • The Metropolitan Police have already lost 2,147 police officers and 1,682 PCSOs since May 2010. The Mayor has earmarked 65 police stations and front-counters for closure. The Met's own Chief Financial Operating Officer has labelled the Met's Budget for the coming year as 'very risky'
  • NHS London delivered efficiency savings of around £1 billion in 2011/12 and is committed to further savings of £600 million in 2012/13 and £500 million in 2013/14. Eight A&Es are due to be closed across London

 I challenged the Mayor regarding my concerns about the safety of Londoners following the fire cuts outlined in the London Safety Plan. The cutting of fire engines and axing firefighters will certainly put people at risk. We are seeing utter confusion about cuts to London’s policing and fire brigade from the Mayor's office.

I am concerned about cuts to the frontline services in Brent and Harrow. The government and the Mayor are cutting too far, too fast and these cuts will inevitably endanger families and communities across the capital.

The Mayor can’t give a straight answer about how much a closed police station will save or where residents will be able to report crime. Many residents have spoken to me and they just don’t believe Boris when he says that he can close 65 police stations, 12 fire stations, axe 520 firefighter posts and cut 18 fire engines and still maintain the same service we have now. He has direct responsibility for the fire and police services so has to take responsibility for the closure of fire and police stations and the loss of police officers on his watch. The cuts are going too far and too fast.

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31st January 2013

Boris attacked for trying to force through fire cuts

Today the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has formally directed the London Fire Authority to make deep and damaging cuts. The Fire Authority had previously voted against the Mayor’s budget proposals to close fire stations, but he is now trying to use his powers as Mayor to force them through.

The Mayoral Direction comes on the same day that Boris was challenged on cuts to the emergency services across London at today’s Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall. Mr Johnson was criticised for not taking responsibility for the cuts he is making to the London Fire Brigade. I argued that the station closures and fire appliance reductions are due to budget cuts imposed by the Mayor.

In his letter to the Mayor of London on 29th January 2013 the London Fire Commissioner stated: "I regard the budgetory position as being a significant factor in the proposals which I have produced."

Today's Mayoral Direction is the first step to closing these fire stations. Boris is trying to hide behind his fire officers, he needs to take responsibility for his cuts. These changes are driven by budget cuts, not improvements to the fire service. Today we have called an emergency meeting of the London Fire Authority, this will take place as soon as possible.

Boris needs to think again and look at reallocating resources from the wider Greater London Authority budget. This will keep our fire stations open and protect the safety and security of Londoners. He is trying to force the London Fire Authority to make these deep cuts, which are opposed by us and many Londoners.

The London Fire Brigade and all of their dedicated staff do a fantastic job keeping us safe and helping us when we need it most. He is cutting too far and too fast, hitting the frontline and fundamentally undermining the ability of the fire brigade to do their job. How can cutting 12 of our fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters be in the best interest of Londoners?

Background

The London Fire Brigade's budget is to be cut by the Mayor and government by £45 million for the next two years. Boris Johnson wants to close 12 fire stations across London. Even after the 12 stations, 18 fire appliances and 520 firefighters have been cut the Mayor and LFEPA will still have to find over £5 million of cuts. On average it costs £1.4 million to run a one fire engine station.

The fire stations listed for closure are: Belsize in Camden; Bow in Tower Hamlets; Clapham in Lambeth; Clerkenwell in Islington; Downham in Lewisham; Kingsland in Hackney; Knightsbridge in Kensington & Chelsea; New Cross in Lewisham; Silvertown in Newham; Southwark; Westminster; and Woolwich in Greenwich.

In addition the following stations will lose one of their two fire engines: Chelsea, Chingford, Hayes, Leyton, Leytonstone, Peckham and Whitechapel.

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30th January 2013

Fire cuts: "It’s time for Boris to listen"

Following yesterday’s London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) I urge Boris Johnson to listen to Londoners' concerns.

The London Fire Brigade's budget has been cut by the Mayor and government by £45 million for the next two years. Last week it was announced that Boris Johnson wants to close 12 fire stations across London. Even after the 12 stations, 18 fire appliances and 520 firefighters have been cut the Mayor and LFEPA will still have to find over £5 million of cuts. On average it costs £1.4 million to run a one fire engine station.

The Mayor and government are cutting too far and too fast, hitting the frontline and fundamentally undermining the ability of the fire brigade to do their job. That is why we voted against the Mayor’s proposals. We understand that savings have to be made, but the level of cuts forced on the London Fire Brigade by the Mayor and government are truly reckless.

Boris has said he will now issue a directive ordering the London Fire Authority to make these cuts. He is ignoring the Fire Authority and is forcing through these cuts against the wishes of Londoners. The Mayor needs to think again and look at reallocating resources from the wider Greater London Authority budget. This will keep our fire stations open and protect the safety and security of Londoners. The final Fire Budget will not be voted on until March so Boris still has time to think again and listen to genuine concerns.

If Boris is serious about listening to Londoners then he cannot overrule our plans for a wide ranging consultation. We want to make sure each borough has at least a two hour meeting and that members of the fire authority are there. We do not want a repeat of the sham consultation meetings carried out by the Mayor’s policing deputy Stephen Greenhalgh.

This is the Mayor’s Budget and the buck stops with him. If he chooses to ignore the express wishes of Londoners then that is his decision. But we will not sign up to any reckless plan that downgrades the fire service and puts at risk the safety and security of Londoners.

The fire stations listed for closure are:

Belsize in Camden; Bow in Tower Hamlets; Clapham in Lambeth; Clerkenwell in Islington; Downham in Lewisham; Kingsland in Hackney; Knightsbridge in Kensington & Chelsea; New Cross in Lewisham; Silvertown in Newham; Southwark; Westminster; and Woolwich in Greenwich.

In addition the following stations will lose one of their two fire engines: Chelsea, Chingford, Hayes, Leyton, Leytonstone, Peckham and Whitechapel.

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22nd January 2013

12 Fire Stations, 18 Fire Engines and 400 Fire-Fighters to be cut in London

The London Fire Brigade's budget has been cut by the Mayor and government by £45 million over the next two years. Even after the 12 stations, 18 fire appliances and 400 fire-fighters have been cut the Mayor and LFEPA will still have to find over £5 million of cuts. On average it costs £1.4 million to run a one fire engine station.

The fire stations listed for closure are:

Belsize in Camden

Bow in Tower Hamlets

Clapham in Lambeth

Clerkenwell in Islington

Downham in Lewisham

Kingsland in Hackney

Knightsbridge in Kensington & Chelsea

New Cross in Lewisham

Silvertown in Newham

Southwark

Westminster

Woolwich in Greenwich 

In addition the following stations will lose one of their two fire engines: Chelsea, Chingford, Hayes, Leyton, Leytonstone, Peckham and Whitechapel.

London’s fire brigade is facing a crisis, today we found out we will lose 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 400 fire-fighters. This will reduce fire cover in London, these cuts will put the safety and security of Londoners at risk.

How can cutting 12 of our fire stations, 18 fire engines and 400 fire-fighters be in the best interest of Londoners? The London Fire Brigade and their dedicated staff do a fantastic job keeping us safe and helping us when we need it most. The government are cutting too far and too fast, hitting the frontline and fundamentally undermining the ability of the fire brigade to do their job. It’s time that the Mayor stood up for Londoners and got a better deal from central government.

We understand that savings have to be made, but the level of cuts forced on the London Fire Brigade by the Mayor and government are truly reckless. Boris’s cuts are hitting front-line services and putting public safety at risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11th January 2013

The fight goes on to keep Fire Stations open

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I led a group of London Labour MPs and Assembly Member colleagues to hand-deliver a letter to Mayor Boris Johnson at City Hall on 1 November. The letter, signed by 33 London MPs, calls on the Mayor to re-think his proposed drastic cuts to the London Fire Brigade which could see 17 fire stations, 17 fire appliances and over 600 firefighters lost across London, including Willesden Green Fire Station in Brent.

Holding the petition outside City Hall with MPs and Assembly Members.JPG

Conservative Chair of the Fire Authority, James Cleverly, has publicly stated that only 28 out of London’s 112 stations “will definitely not close”. There has been no public consultation on this issue which threatens to put Londoners’ safety at risk.

The London Fire Brigade is facing severe cuts due to the government slashing the fire budget by 25%. This represents the biggest shake-up to the London Fire Brigade since it was created 146 years ago.

The budget was cut by £29.5million this year and will be slashed by a further £35.3million next year, a total of £65million. These losses are even deeper than the 20% cut to the police budget.

We called on the Mayor to re-think these dangerous cuts which will put the safety of Londoners at risk. It is about time he listened to residents across the city and abandoned these plans. Londoners including people in my constituency of Brent and Harrow are deeply concerned and worried about losing their local fire station.

Navin handing in petition .JPG

I understand that savings have to be made, but the level of cuts forced on the London Fire Brigade by the Mayor and government are truly reckless. They are cutting too far, too fast. They are hitting front-line services and putting public safety at risk. The Mayor needs to listen to the concerns of Londoners and change course.

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2nd November 2012

Emergency services in Brent and Harrow are being “devastated”

Emergency services are being “devastated” in Brent and Harrow with Londoners’ lives being put at risk. The proposed closures in Brent are Willesden Fire Station, Willesden Green Police Station and Central Middlesex Hospital. Harrow has lost 18.7% number of officers since 2010. Other emergency services affected in Harrow would in theory be Stanmore Fire Station. I supported a motion at last Wednesday’s London Assembly meeting calling on Boris “to reconsider and abandon his own draconian cuts to the emergency services” to keep Londoners safe.

Across London, blue-light services are being threatened:

  • The London Fire Brigade is facing steep cuts due to the government cutting the fire budget by 25% - £65million in total
  • London Ambulance Service will lose £53million (19%) of it’s budget by 2015/16, resulting in 890 job cuts, of which 560 will be frontline staff
  • The Metropolitan Police is being cut by 12% and has already lost 1,777 police officers and 1,800 PCSOs in the past two years
  • A&Es will be forced to cater for an extra 120,000 residents on average each. In 2010 there were 32 A&E departments in London, but only 24 would remain under these plans.

I am concerned about what’s happening to our frontline services. When we do complain about what’s happening to the NHS, our fire and police services, it’s because we care what happens to these frontline services, which have an impact on people’s lives.

We’re seeing the unacceptable and dangerous face of deep cuts. The Mayor has tried to duck and dive when questioned directly about cuts to the NHS but he has direct responsibility for the fire and police services so has to take responsibility for the closure of fire and police stations and the loss of police officers on his watch. The cuts are going too far and too fast and will inevitably endanger families and communities across the capital.

I am calling on the Mayor to consider the effects of these devastating cuts on Londoners’ safety. The closures of police front desks, fire stations and A & E departments will mean various pockets of London could see the safety of residents threatened by longer response times.

Ends

Notes

1. The 32 A&E’s served a population of 8.17million Londoners, an average of 255,000 people each. Reducing to 24 A&Es will mean they have to cover 340,000 each, with London’s population due to rise to 9million by 2020. This will increase the number of people each A&E is due to cover to 375,000 residents - an increase of 120,000 for each A&E. This assumes that no further closures take place.

2.    The motion passed on Wednesday 24 October read:

“This Assembly believes that the safety and security of Londoners is being put at risk as a result of cuts to emergency services being pushed through by the Mayor and the Coalition Government to the key emergency services – the Metropolitan Police Service, the London Fire Brigade alongside the London Ambulance Service and the city’s Accident & Emergency Departments.

The Assembly believes that the cuts are going too far and too fast and that the many millions of pounds being taken from the budgets of the NHS, the Metropolitan Police Service and the London Fire Brigade will inevitably endanger families and communities across the capital.

This Assembly believes that the cuts, from these various budget streams, are being carried out without strategic consideration of their aggregate effects on Londoners’ safety or the geography of blue light coverage. The closures of police front desks, fire stations and A & E departments will mean various pockets of London could see the safety of residents threatened by longer response times.

This Assembly recognises the strategic, metropolitan perspective of the Mayor of London and Greater London Authority and challenges his acceptance of these cuts as an economic necessity, with little information or regard for the safety consequences. This Assembly calls on the Mayor to commission strategic research into the formation of blue light black holes, to stand up for Londoners against the cuts being imposed by the Coalition Government and to reconsider and abandon his own draconian cuts to the emergency services on which we rely to keep Londoners safe.”

The webcast for the London Assembly meeting where the motion was passed on Wednesday 24 October 2012 can be watched here: http://www.london.gov.uk/who-runs-london/the-london-assembly/webcasts

Permanent link to this article
30th October 2012

Navin Shah AM praises local man for 25 years in fire service

By Navin Shah AM  

Celebrating at City Hall yesterday, the Harrow Fire Station’s Watch Manager, Pierre Marsh was pleased to accept his award for long-service to the Fire Brigade after 25 years.

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I was extremely happy to attend the ceremony and congratulate such a remarkable man on his fantastic accomplishments whilst he’s been in the Fire Brigade.

Pierre Marsh joined the London Fire Brigade in 1987 and has played an important role over the past 25 years. He was one of the founding members of the Black and Asian Firefighters Group, and is now recognised as a national support group within the organisation.

Proud of his accomplishments, Mr. Marsh said: "The Fire Service, for me, is about a duty of service to London and its communities.

"Being a Fire Fighter is about a journey of development and commitment. I am extremely happy to have won this award and to be recognised for my service to the London Fire Brigade over the last 25 years."

I believe that, it’s invaluable having such dedicated, hard-working people such as Pierre working in the Fire Service for this length of time.

Thirty years is a major milestone and reflects dedication to London’s community and their safety.

It was a pleasure to meet Pierre and congratulate him personally on his outstanding achievement.

New Year's Message

Dear All,

My New Year's resolution is to fight a successful election in 2012 and be part of the team that brings down fares for Londoners. Fares have become unaffordable and TfL’s £206 million surplus should be used to ease the financial pressure for the people who need it.

It’s important that we save Londoners money where we can. I want to see a safer, fairer and equal London and continue my work with our richly diverse communities in Brent and Harrow.

I wish you all a happy, prosperous and safe New Year.

Navin Shah

Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow

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Permanent link to this article
29th December 2011

Christmas Message

Dear All,  

This time of year gives us an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to the new year. London has faced some massive challenges this year and wide-scale riots in August proved how people of Brent and Londoners can overcome adversity.   

Next year will showcase London in the best light, with the Olympics and Paralympics bringing visitors here from around the world. In May, the elections for the London Mayor and Assembly take place which will determine London’s future for the next four years.

2012 is set to be a fantastic and exciting year in this great city of London and Brent. I assure my best endeavours to our community in Brent.  

Enjoy the festive period, spending time with family and friends and stay safe. I wish all our community members Merry Christmas and very best for a peaceful and happy New Year.   

Navin Shah

Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow

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23rd December 2011

Privatisation of the London Control Centre

By Navin Shah AM

The rushed privatisation of the London Fire Brigade’s Control Centre is appalling. Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Brian Coleman is dismantling the service and functions of the London Fire Brigade, bit by bit at a terrifyingly quick pace.

The Fire Control Centre for London is operated by highly trained and efficient staff, who believe in what they do and have been horrified by this drive towards privatisation for privatisation’s sake. They have great knowledge and expertise and are faultless in their dedication to their extremely difficult job.

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The reason they, and I, are deeply unhappy about the privatisation of their place of work is that it is a purely political move. The proposals put forward by the Conservative Chair offer no real economic savings, efficiencies or effectiveness. They are motivated purely by an ideological Tory agenda. Indeed, the control centre is regularly exceeding its performance targets.

And how will these changes affect Londoners? I have concerns whether this is in the public interest and how this might affect public safety. During the London Riots in August this year, staff at the 999 Control Centre dealt with over 4,000 calls and dedicated staff volunteered to continue working. Will that still be the case when staff have been sold off to a private company? The sense of public service felt by these staff members will be shattered if Coleman’s plans are bulldozed through.

London's fire control centre is responsible for organising the response to major disasters. Since it opened in 2003, the mainly female staff members have talked callers through life threatening situations and should be applauded for their cool-headedness and bravery. But they are not.

Instead, they are being demoralised by the changes to their jobs and workplace, which are happening at break-neck speed.

Permanent link to this article
14th December 2011

Boris: I’m "strong supporter" of fire museum (but we’re closing it anyway)

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By London SE1 website team

 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has described himself as a "strong supporter" of the London Fire Brigade Museum just days before the Conservative-led fire authority is expected to approve proposals to shut it down.

The Mayor was asked by Labour London Assembly member (and fire authority member) Navin Shah whether his vision for a combined 'blue light' museum of London's emergency services is now a "dead duck".

"I am a strong supporter of the London Fire Brigade Museum," replied Mr Johnson.

"I have been informed by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority that the current fire brigade museum will need to close when the training site is eventually sold but they have assured me that the collection will stay where it is until that time and then be placed in storage until a permanent home is found for the collection.

"I remain supportive of the idea of creating a blue light museum in the long-term. The responsible authorities (LFEPA, Metropolitan Police Authority and London Ambulance Service) are unable to pursue this aspiration at present because of the difficulty of raising sufficient set-up funds in the current economic climate."

The fire authority will meet on Thursday afternoon to consider budget proposals which include the closure of the museum on Southwark Bridge Road.

Mr Johnson's comments suggest that the collection will not be dispersed; this is at odds with the papers to be considered by the fire authority which say that the museum closure (on 1 April next year) "would generate savings from October 2013 once the 7,500 items in the collection have been disposed of to either other museums, the original owners or sold".

Trade unions have registered their concerns about the authority's plans for the Southwark training centre site.

"The museum is a great resource which provides good publicity for the brigade and generates income for the authority," says Charles Adje of the GMB union.

Last week Brian Coleman, chairman of LFEPA, complained that the blue light proposal has been scuppered by the Metropolitan Police which refuses to allow its infamous 'black museum' to be incorporated into the attraction.

Permanent link to this article
22nd November 2011

Closure of London Fire Brigade Museum is "ill-conceived" says authority member

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Last week we reported that the fire authority's chairman Brian Coleman had tabled a proposal to close down the museum which is located at Winchester House on Southwark Bridge Road.

Three years ago a similar proposal was withdrawn after objections were raised by serving and retired firefighters, unions and museum users.

So far more than 1,100 people have signed a petition calling on the authority to save the museum which costs just £81,000 a year to run.

"I believe that the whole proposal is ill-conceived," said Cllr Navin Shah AM, a Labour member of the fire authority. "This is our heritage and history we are talking about."

Cllr Shah was speaking at a meeting of the authority's finance and personnel committee on Monday morning.

"The right approach would be to look at how we can invest in a more accessible, better museum which can enhance the educational aspects ... rather than losing the entire collection at a stroke."

Cllr Shah added: "This should be off the agenda. We should look at how we can safeguard and enhance the provision. I thought that the Mayor's proposal for a blue light museum was a good one ... but obviously that has disappeared in smoke."

Cllr Terry Stacy, a Lib Dem member of the fire authority, said he understood the need to make cuts but warned that the museum closure and other proposed savings would "allow resentment to build among staff and the community as a whole".

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"There's a lot of huffing and puffing about the museum," Brian Coleman told the committee.

He explained that the future of the museum would have to be considered in the context of plans to outsource the training of firefighters which is currently carried out at the Southwark Bridge Road site.

"In the medium term Winchester House and the whole Southwark [training centre] site will go," he said. "It will have to be disposed of. When [the site] goes, there's no space for the museum.

"I wish we had money to invest in the museum. I wish we didn't have to make the various cuts ... but I see no proposals from the Labour group on how we can make up this deficit bearing the mind the cuts target we have been by the Mayor which is part of his political directive to freeze the precept for Londoners."

Cllr Coleman added: "I would be happy to reverse the proposed savings if Cllr Shah could propose other savings or other sources of revenue."

Turning to the proposal for a combined museum of London's emergency services, Cllr Coleman said: "It was actually my idea, worked up with the late Sir Simon Milton, to have a blue light museum, and [the Mayor's culture advisor] Munira Mirza spent £8,000 of taxpayers' money on getting a consultant in to look at it. I'd have done the exercise for 10 per cent of that fee.

"Sadly it's gone nowhere. Cllr Shah: you are more than welcome to ask questions at City Hall as to why it has gone nowhere. 

"I understand that the police wouldn't play ball – as ever – because the key attraction for a blue light museum would be the so-called 'black museum' from Scotland Yard.

"They queue round the block for the London Dungeon and I think they'd queue round the block for the contents of the 'black museum'.

He continued: "There's the London Ambulance Service Museum out in Ilford and several warehouses – which you are paying for – to store old police vehicles, believe it or not."

"I still believe that there is some merit in the blue light museum."

The proposal for the closure of the museum – and the overall draft budget for the fire service – will be considered at a meeting of the full authority on Thursday 24 November.

 

Permanent link to this article
14th November 2011

ENJOY FIREWORKS – BUT BE CAREFUL & CONSIDERATE!

Happy Diwali and wishing Hindu, Jain and Sikh readers a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous new year.

Enjoy the fireworks celebrations associated with Diwali and Guy Fawkes and bonfire night. But when you do so remember the elderly people in our community and pets who require a special consideration and care. Please do not set off loud and noisy fireworks and also ensure that you do not use fire works after 9pm. I’d also advice that you strictly follow the following safety code published by the London Fire Brigade:

  • Only buy fireworks marked with the British Standard Kitemark BS7114.
  • Don't drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box, and always follow the instructions carefully when using them.
  • Light them at arms length using a taper and stand well back.
  • Never go back to them once they are lit. Even if a firework hasn't gone off, it could still explode.
  • Never throw fireworks and never put them in your pocket.
  • Respect your neighbours – don’t let off fireworks late at night and remember there are laws to follow. It is illegal to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am
  • Take care with sparklers – never give them to children under five. Even when they have gone out they are still hot so put sparklers in a bucket of water after use. 
  • Keep your pets indoors throughout the evening.  

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If you want information about bonfire safety or the law governing fireworks visit here.

Celebrate by all means but please be safe and considerate.

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3rd November 2011

BBC News: Neasden Fire

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Mother and five children killed in Neasden house fire

A mother and five of her children have been killed in a house fire in north-west London.

Muna Elmufatish, 41, and her daughters Hanin Kua, 14, Basma, 13 and Amal, nine, died in the blaze with her sons Mustafa, five, and Yehya, aged two.

Her husband, Bassam Kua, 51, and another daughter Nur, 16, are in a critical condition following the fire in Neasden early on Saturday morning.

Police said they are not treating the deaths as suspicious.

Flames tore through the semi-detached house in Sonia Gardens as six fire engines and 30 firefighters tackled the blaze at about 01:00 BST.

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'Like a bomb'

One neighbour said he heard a loud bang from the home of the family who are thought to be Palestinian, which sounded "like an explosion, almost like a bomb".

He added: "We all went outside and we saw firemen looking out the window and shouting, 'there's people in there'. It was horrific."

LFB station manager Glen Gorman, who was at the scene, said: "There's no doubt this is an absolute tragedy.

Chief Supt Matthew Gardner: 'Thorough and painstaking investigation' taking place

"My thoughts, and those of my colleagues at the London Fire Brigade, are with the friends, family and loved ones of those affected at this extremely sad and difficult time."

He added: "Crews worked extremely hard in some very, very, difficult conditions and were able to prevent fire spreading to adjoining properties and causing further injuries or even further tragedy."

Chief Supt Matthew Gardner said: "Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the friends and family of the victims, who are now having to come to terms with this terrible loss of life."

A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: "We sent the air ambulance, a doctor in a car, four ambulance crews and a hazardous area response team.

"Sadly four youngsters and an adult were dead at the scene.

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Silence observed

"Our staff treated a five-year-old boy in cardiac arrest but despite extensive efforts they were unable to resuscitate him."

BBC correspondent Ben Ando said from the scene that the local community had been profoundly shocked by the deaths.

London Assembly member Navin Shah said his condolences were with the family whose childen attended schools in the area.

Chief Supt Gardner said local officers were conducting "reassurance patrols" and would be working with the local authority and fire brigade, as well as local schools in the coming days.

Firefighters from Willesden, West Hampstead, North Kensington and Park Royal fire stations were at the scene of the blaze.

They were alerted at 00:50 BST and the fire was under control by 02:50 BST but the ground and first floors of the house were badly damaged.

A minute's silence for those who died was held at 17:30 BST by fire crews from across the UK who are attending a firefighters' event in east London.

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24th September 2011

Remembering with hope

Navin Shah, London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, attended a service in St Paul’s Cathedral to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States of America and the twentieth anniversary of the Firefighters Memorial Trust.

Addressing the congregation at the service called  ‘Remembering with Hope’, Right Reverend Graeme Knowles stated how people of from many  backgrounds had come together  “to pray for the future security of the world, for a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect, for peace and freedom, for justice and the rule of law.”

The congregation was attended by Bob Neil MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Honourable Louis B. Susman, Ambassador of the United States of America, Courtney Cowart Survivor of 9/11, London Fire Brigade, representatives of Firefighters’ Memorial Trust and representatives of Interfaith Group.

 

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After the service, prayers were held at the memorial statue of firefighters, opposite the Cathedral, led by the Chaplain to the Firefighters Memorial Trust and National Chairman of the Association of Jewish Ex-servicemen and Women.

Speaking after the service at the Cathedral and prayers at the Monument, Navin Shah Assembly Member and Labour lead members on London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) said: “The significance of the service for a peaceful world was to reflect on the atrocities in America ten years ago and the importance of working together in the spirit of hope for a peaceful world.

"The moving experience today also brought back the memories from my visit last year in August to Ground Zero site and the message of harmony and hope conveyed through the proposed  ‘National September 11 Memorial and Museum’ on Ground Zero Site to promote messages of commemoration and education.

"I’m pleased that the Memorial was opened today.”

 

 

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12th September 2011

Fire Brigades Union Endorse New Shift Patterns

On 14 January the Fire Brigade Union’s London Regional Committee endorsed a deal based on a collective agreement for changes to firefighters’ shift pattern.

Some outstanding issues between the Union and LFEPA however remain unresolved. These disputes which relate to the details of the terms of agreement for shift pattern changes could prove to be stumbling block for lifting of the current strike action by firefighters. Unless the strike action is formally lifted by the FBU, the 27 fire engines currently in the possession of private contractor, AssetCo, cannot be moved back to local fire stations.  

Navin Shah AM, Leader of LFEPA’s Labour Group said:

“I’m delighted that the FBU has now endorsed deal for a collective agreement.  This is a move in the right direction and should bring an end to the long and damaging dispute.  Unfortunately until the remaining issues are resolved and the FBU withdraws its strike action the fire engines taken away from fire stations across London cannot be moved back.” 

“I urge both the FBU and officers to act swiftly to resolve the issues.  The safety of Londoners is paramount and I want to see the return of local fire engines without any further delay. “

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17th January 2011

Mayor appears to commit to protecting London's fire services

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By Tristan Kirk

THE Mayor of London appears to have quashed the idea of cutting the number of fire engines in the capital.

London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority last week agreed to investigate the possibility of cutting 27 appliances from the brigade in the wake of October's industrial action.

But Boris Johnson, when quizzed on the matter, said: “I have talked to the chairman [of the authority] about this matter and I'm assured there are no plans for a reduction in frontline services.”

When pressed by Navin Shah, assembly member for Brent and Harrow, Mr Johnson added: “I'm in favour of retaining the 27 fire appliances. I'm not going to get into some pointless argument with you when we are entirely in agreement that there shouldn't be a reduction of fire appliances.”

When the idea was suggested by the fire authority, chairman by Brian Coleman, it caused uproar among the Fire Brigade Union.

Mr Coleman suggested that the strike by the capital's firefighters had shown the brigade could cope with less resources, and the authority was obliged to investigate making cuts.

When the strike was called, 27 engines were used to provide fire cover.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the union, said 27 engines have now been taken out of service and accused Mr Coleman of acting spitefully.

He said: “I have an idea that Brian Coleman thinks he’s somehow punishing firefighters for their two recent one-day strikes, by confiscating 27 of their fire engines.

“It’s a childish way of behaving, and the Mayor should have told Mr Coleman to grow up and return London’s fire engines, not providing cover for him.

“What Mr Coleman wants to do is slash the fire service in London, and the Mayor covered up for him this morning. Neither of them know the first thing about the risks of firefighting.”

This is the latest twist in a rumbling dispute between the fire union and brigade management, who started talks on Tuesday to try to resolve the problems, about changes to shift patterns.

Ron Dobson, Brigade Commissioner, said: “I hope that the recommendations from the meeting will help us bring an end to the current dispute.

“Although the meeting won’t result in an immediate agreement, I do expect recommendations to come back to both ourselves and the Union within a week or so.

“I hope we can then finally agree start and finish times that will help us make Londoners and firefighters safer.”

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18th November 2010

NHS Harrow blasted by Navin Shah over fire at Kenmore clinic

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By Jack Royston

A LABOUR politician has blasted NHS Harrow after a fire at a derelict Kenton health centre where there is asbestos.

The organisation closed down Kenmore Clinic because of health and safety fears in December 2008 but the building has sat, overgrown with weeds, for almost two years.

At around 6pm last night a fire started, damaging the roof and part of the one storey building, in Kenmore Road, sending smoke billowing into the skies above.

Navin Shah, London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, says he met chief executive Mark Easton in September highlighting concerns about vandalism and the safety of the site, but claims his calls fell on deaf ears.

Mr Shah, who is also a member of the fire authority, is now calling for an investigation into the safety of the building and even called for Harrow Council inspectors to be called in.

He said: “We have constantly asked about the future of this site particularly concerns about the clinic, which was shut down without consultation, and the chief executive has done nothing.”

The grounds are protected only by a relatively low fence and Mr Shah, who is also a ward councillor for the area, says he is concerned children may even break inside the building.

Following a review of health and safety at the clinic in 2008 a damning report exposed a raft of problems, including with the maintenance of the safety of asbestos and with the security of the fence, windows and doors.

The documented recommended the clinic be closed “immediately” without consultation, due to the “urgency and severity” of problems with the “unacceptable” building.

Robert Smith, a spokesman for NHS Harrow, confirmed the organisation still owns the site, which is insured, and said there was no asbestos in the roof, where the most visible damage was done.

He said: “NHS Harrow understands that the London Fire Brigade is currently investigating the cause of the fire.

“We are eager to know what happened and will be able to comment further at that stage.”

 

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Comment from Navin:

This picture was taken before the fire at Kenmore Clinic, when I and fellow councillors initially asked NHS Harrow to secure the grounds properly.

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Permanent link to this article
17th November 2010

Brian Coleman to be questioned over freebie dinners with strike-breaking firm

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By Ross Lydall

Fun and games are expected at Thursday's meeting of the London fire authority.

First, a delegation of women firefighters will protest outside the 2pm meeting to demand the reinstatement of Sian Griffiths, who has been suspended on an alleged charge of bullying a strike-breaking woman colleague.

Ms Griffiths, 50, right, described by the brigade as a "trailblazer", was escorted off the premises just two days after receiving the Queen's Fire Service Medal at Buckingham Palace. She has received more than 600 messages of support since I broke the story last week.

The meeting itself could prove awkward for the authority's Tory chairman, Brian Coleman. Darren Johnson, a Green member of the London Assembly, is demanding an investigation into two notorious incidents of firefighters being injured on the picket line during the two recent FBU walk-outs.

(i) Question 257 from Councillor Darren Johnson AM (Green Party):
Will the Chairman request the Commissioner undertakes a formal investigation, including an independent element, of the following reported incidents during industrial action on 1 November: 1 of 3
a) firefighter hit by a car at Croydon Fire Station, and withholding of first aid equipment; b) FBU London representative and firefighter hit by fire engines at Southwark Fire Station
And will the Chairman ensure that the findings of such an investigation are published?

UPDATE Nov 19: At yesterday's meeting Mr Coleman answered: "No." Darren Johnson accused him of "pouring oil on the flames" of the unresolved fire dispute by suggesting axeing 27 engines, describing the proposal as "just plain barking mad". He told Mr Coleman: "You have become so addicted to conflict it's become your way of life... it's become a drug for you."

In addition, Labour's Navin Shah is asking a potentially embarrassing question about the (declared) hospitality received by Mr Coleman from Asset Co, the private firm that won a £12 million deal to provide emergency fire cover and whose contractors stood in for striking firefighters.

The dinners, at Shepherd's restaurant in Westminster, a favourite hang-out of MPs, were all from Asset Co chief exec John Shannon (left). In January this year the pair changed venues - opting instead for Green's restaurant in Duke Street, Mayfair.

It could of course be argued that it made sense for the pair to meet regularly in advance of signing a contract using such vast sums of public money. What's more, the sums are modest - more than can be said of the bill racked up by former FBU general secretary Andy Gilchrist at the Cinnamon Club. I also expect Mr Coleman, right, to have worked out with lawyers in advance how to rule the question out of order. Here's Navin's question:

Councillor Navin Shah AM (Leader, Labour Group):
The recent press coverage concerning the hospitality outlined below which was received by you from Asset Co prior to the award of a contract:
· Lunch to a value of £25 on 30 October 2007
· Dinner to a value of £50 on 23 July 2008
· A Harvey Nichols hamper to a value of £350 on 24 December 2008
· Dinner to a value of £40 on 19 January 2009
has been highly critical. Do you now accept that these actions reflect poor judgement and a lack of sensitivity on your part and will you now assure Londoners that such damaging conduct will not be repeated in the future?

UPDATE Nov 19: Mr Coleman replied: "I would have thought that the Member would have used the Chairman's Questions opportunity to raise important issues of Authority policy." He added: "My entirely proper relationship with AssetCo will continue."

Permanent link to this article
16th November 2010

New Shift Changes For Firefighters: Navin Shah AM welcomes an end to the dispute

Today’s meeting of the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority saw London saved from further strike action by London’s firefighters.  At a specially-convened meeting of the Authority, new shift patterns for London’s firefighters were agreed subject to endorsement by the FBU’s London Regional Committee meeting tomorrow.

Speaking after the meeting, Labour's Leader on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Navin Shah said:

“This is the best news Londoners have had against all expectations and I welcome the commitment of the FBU in signing up to the shift changes.”

“Our tabled Amendment, supported by all the opposition groups, to bring a further report on the negotiations as planned to the Authority meeting on 27 January would have allowed our Commissioner, Ron Dobson, to negotiate a collective settlement at the earliest opportunity.  It is scandalous that the Amendment was voted down purely for party political reasons by the Conservatives.  Throughout the industrial dispute Brian Coleman’s conduct has been disgraceful but I hope the Authority will recover from the damage he has caused to its reputation. ”

“The Labour Group has said all along that a negotiated settlement is the only way forward and I am delighted we now have reached a scenario where the threat of imposing new contracts on our firefighters by confrontational Chairman Brian Coleman and his Conservative Group has been lifted. I very much hope that the union’s London Regional Committee agrees this at its meeting tomorrow and Londoners can look forward to getting back their missing 27 fire engines without further delay.”  

 

Permanent link to this article
13th November 2010

Shah hits out at fire engine cuts plan

In The HA1

The London Assembly member for Harrow and Brent has hit out at a plan to look at reducing the number of fire engines serving the capital.

Navin Shah said London Fire Authority (LFA) Chair Brian Coleman had gone back on his word over the possibility of cuts to the service.

Mr Coleman said the LFA should look into reducing the number of fire engines to help save money, after just 27 were used to cover the recent strike action.

He also cited a ban on overtime as a sign that changes could be made, saying: “We are really grateful to the FBU for showing us that there are possible efficiencies.

“The union has banned overtime for two to three months and London doesn’t seem to have come to a halt.”

Mr Shah, who is the Labour leader on the London Fire Emergency Planning Authority, said the decision was poorly timed and reneged on previous commitments.

He said: “Councillor Coleman gave a public assurance last week that he would not be cutting fire engines, firefighters or fire stations.

“At this sensitive time when we are trying to settle the dispute, Coleman can’t even wait until the ink is dry before he’s talking about more cuts.”

Permanent link to this article
10th November 2010

Labour rival calls for Mayor Boris Johnson to sack Barnet's Brian Coleman as head of the London Fire Authority

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By Alex Hayes

THE leading Labour representative on the London Fire Authority has called on Boris Johnson to “reconsider” Brian Coleman's position as chairman.

Navin Shah, the Brent and Harrow London Assembly member, welcomed firefighters calling off today's planned 47-hour walkout after a dispute about hours.

The Fire Brigade Union and LFA will now sit down for talks later this month, with hopes of a resolution to the problem.

Mr Shah said: ““Mayor Boris Johnson and his confrontational and aggressive fire authority Chairman have massively hindered the negotiation process.

“The Mayor should take control of this situation and re-consider Brian Coleman’s position.

“The longer he is in place the less likely it is an agreement will be reached to bring this dispute to an end.”

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5th November 2010

Firefighters call off Bonfire Night and Diwali strikes

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By James Cracknell

HARROW and Brent have been spared a potentially dangerous clash of Diwali, Bonfire Night and a strike by firefighters as union bosses called off the industrial action over fears for public safety.

The Fire Brigade's Union (FBU) and the LFB have now agreed to sit down to try and resolve their differences at an independently chaired meeting on November 16.

Union leader Matt Wrack said the strike was called off amid growing concerns over private contractor AssetCo's ability to cope and fears for public safety,

He said: "We have listened to the concerns about public safety and we have watched the work of the private contractors who are supposed to protect Londoners with mounting concern."

London fire commissioner Ron Dobson said: "My intention has always been to reach an agreement on proposals that will make Londoners safer and firefighters safer.

"Going to an independently-chaired body to help us seek a way forward is a step in the right direction."

LFB issued a notice to 5,500 London fireifighters in August explaining that their existing contracts would be terminated in November, with new shift patterns and working conditions issued instead.

The brigade had earlier won a High Court injunction placing restrictions on FBU picket lines, to allow stand-in crews from AssetCo to access fire stations unobstructed.

Reacting on Friday (5), Labour’s leader on the London Fire Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) said he welcomed the FBU’s decision.

Kenton East councillor Navin Shah, also London Assembly member for Harrow and Brent, said: “This is excellent news.

"I very much welcome the positive and responsible approach by the FBU in agreeing to the mediation meeting on 16 November.

"I have been urging all parties to get round the table and talk as nothing short of a negotiated settlement will do.”

Mr Shah had ealrier slammed fire brigade bosses for their treatment of firefighters.

“Mayor Boris Johnson and his confrontational and aggressive fire authority chairman have massively hindered the negotiation process.

"The mayor should take control of this situation and reconsider Brian Coleman’s position.

"The longer he is in place the less likely it is an agreement will be reached to bring this dispute to an end.”

Permanent link to this article
5th November 2010

Striking firefighters in Hendon and Finchley welcome support during eight hour walk out

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By Kevin Bradford

FIREFIGHTERS at picket lines today welcomed the public's support towards their strike and urged Brigade bosses to hold further talks in a bid to avert future action.

Crews across the borough stood outside their fire stations in a show of solidarity against the London Fire Brigade's (LFB) plans to change shift patterns under the threat of redundancies.

Dozens of staff turned out this morning at each station for a peaceful protest after 11th hour talks between the LFB and the union collapsed.

Steve Renny, Fire Brigade Union (FBU) representative for Finchley station, said: “We are all disappointed we didn't reach an agreement yesterday.

“We don't want to be out on strike today or on November 5, but if that is what it takes to hold on to our jobs.

“We are hoping the public will be behind us and realise this isn't about money, it is purely about our start and finish times and getting a good time for our members and their families.

“We will talk to them but without the threat of the sack. Remove that, and we would call off the strikes immediately.”

Fire brigade union bosses said yesterday the London Fire Brigade (LFB) “point blank refused” to lift the threat to sack 5,500 firefighters.

Crews from Hendon Fire Station set up a stool outside their station in The Burroughs, and were receiving beeps and waves of support from passers by.

Shaun Powell, the station's union representative, said: “The response from the public has been very good. People have been supportive of us.

“We are always disappointed we have to strike. If it was avoidable then we would do it. We are all prepared to change, but we don't want change for change sake.

“We all accept changes to shift patterns are going to happen, but that negotiation should not be done with a gun to our heads.”

Cover throughout the day was provided by private firm AssetCo, and crews were located at Tottenham and Wembley to respond to 999 calls in the north London area.

But Mr Renny said if AssetCo staff had been drafted into his station, there would have been no displays of aggression.

He said: “If they had come here, we would have let them know what they're doing and politely asked them not to cross the picket line.

“We just wanted to explain that our jobs are at risk.”

A statement from the LFB confirmed the contingency plans were rolled out this morning and that all 162 contract staff providing fire and rescue service across London were available or waiting to be deployed by 11am, an hour after the strike started.

A total of 27 fully crewed appliances were operating and responding to 999 calls across the city until 6pm when the strike ends.

Navin Shah AM, Labour Leader on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, today urged the union to re-think their strike, planned for bonfire night, and called for Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to replace the authority's chair, Barnet Councillor Brian Coleman.

Mr Shah said: “The confrontational, unnecessarily aggressive approach of Brian Coleman has been matched by the absence of Boris Johnson. It’s been a complete shambles. Relations with the union should never have reached this dire state.

“The best way to diffuse the current situation would be for the Mayor to install new leadership at the Fire Authority and engage with the FBU.”

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Permanent link to this article
1st November 2010

Plea to end fire brigade dispute

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By James Cracknell

A HARROW councillor has called on London mayor Boris Johnson to end the 'deplorable' stand-off between firefighters and their bosses.

While Harrow and Brent escaped unscathed from Saturday's strike, another is due to begin on Monday and a contentious third has been pencilled in for Bonfire Night weekend, one of the busiest of the year.

If the increasingly fractious negotiations between the London FireBrigade (LFB) and the Fire Brigade's Union (FBU) come to no resolution before November 26, 5,500 firefighters face being sacked.

Councillor Navin Shah (Kenton East) sits on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority board, opposite its Conservative chairman Brian Coleman.

He told the Observer this week: "There has been a complete vacuum at the political level, including the mayor of London.

"I have been demanding all along that the chairman and the mayor open adialogue with the FBU."

The industrial dispute centres on a bid by the LFB to terminate existing contracts and re-issue firefighters with new shift patterns and working conditions.

Mr Shah said he blamed the mayor for conspiring with Mr Coleman, the Conservative fire chairman Mr Johnson appointed in 2008, on the termination of contracts.

He continued: "This is deplorable. It is the third biggest fire brigade in the world, you would have thought they wouldn't want a major confrontation.

"It doesn't help with the kind of language the chairman is using: 'either you sign up or your contract will be scrapped'.

"The change to shifts does need to happen, there isn't a disagreement about that, but it is how you go about it.

"My fear is that both the mayor and the chairman have been spoiling for a fight."

But Mr Coleman has denied that the decision to sack firefighters was about making job losses. "The FBU have placed firefighters in a terrible position," he said.

"We asked for a meeting with national negotiators on November 5, and the union has responded with a strike.

"There are no cuts, no job losses, this is about reducing a 15-hour night shift, adding those hours to the day shift and doing more community safety work and firefighter training."

Mr Shah himself admitted the choice of date for a 47-hour strike was inappropriate. He added: "It is unfortunate they have gone for November 5, which also happens to be Diwali, when Hindus celebrate with fireworks.

"I understand they want the strike to bite but I think they have miscalculated it."

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28th October 2010

Firework displays jeopardised over strike

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By Glenn McMahon

FIREWORK displays across London could be jeopardised after firemen announced plans to strike over bonfire weekend.

FIREWORK displays across London could be jeopardised or forced to scale down after firemen announced plans to strike over bonfire weekend.

Brent Council’s safety officers ruled the annual event in Roundwood Park could go ahead without a bonfire.

A spokesman for Brent Council said it would consider hiring a private fire-company as cover depending on the cost.

London’s 5,600 firemen will also walk-out on Monday, November 1, as the dispute over working conditions continues.

Strike action was voted for after employers, the London Fire Brigade, sent out formal notices, in August, stating contracts would be terminated if negotiations were not completed within three months.

Firemen would then have to reapply for their jobs under new contracts.

The LFB says it has been trying to agree changes to shift patterns and ‘outdated’ allowances to make more time for community safety work and training.

The Fire Brigade Union says talks were progressing but were forced to take action over the shock move.

The Government announced a 25 per cent cut from fire and rescue service budgets last week over the next four years but said this figure could be reduced if flexible working arrangements, pay restraint and recruitment freezes were implemented.

On Saturday, London fire-crews picketing stations were replaced by 27 fire-engines and 162 contracted firemen.

However, London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, accused strikers of harassment, intimidation and violence towards the contractors.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said the accusations were unfounded.

A decision on whether to allow the termination of contracts or to extend negotiations will be taken by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, made up of 17 London Councillors and two mayoral appointees, at a meeting on November 18.

Navin Shah, London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow and leader of the Labour group on the LFEPA, said: “The problem is a lack of political leadership. They have been spoiling for a fight; London doesn’t need it. We should be looking at how we can diffuse the situation and then see what the best way forward is.”

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26th October 2010

Asian Voice Column - October 2010

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By Navin Shah AM

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT BETRAYAL

Before lecturing Labour Party on its commitment to change and fairness LibDems ought to look at their own record of betrayal of voters. In the coalition government it hasn’t taken much long for LibDems to ditch their flagship pledges and policies.  Ed Miliband has been absolutely right in calling Nick Clegg a “crypto Tory” for selling out to Tories.

Since the election we have seen U-turns after U-turns from Liberal Democrats. A select list of their brain-melting volte-face include : Supporting deep and fast cuts in public services when they claimed they supported Labour’s commitment to spending in the first year after the election to boost economic growth rather than axing public services; Scrapping longstanding commitment to tuition fees – a pledge which they claimed had been ‘fully costed’; increase in VAT to 20% which they claimed  they had no plans for;; Supporting non-workable controversial Tory plan to cap non-EU immigration when they claimed they opposed this and supported Labour’s Australian style points based system and Dropping their opposition to Trident Nuclear missiles.

In the post-election period I expressed my fear that the core values held by the LibDems would be ‘watered down or even totally lost’ to enable them to hang on to power. LibDems should be concerned about how they’ve totally wrecked public trust rather than lecturing Ed Miliband and the Labour Party. 

FIRE BRIGADE STRIKE

LACK OF POLITICAL LEADERSHIP

Nearly 6000 fire-fighters of the London Fire Brigade were balloted by the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) for a strike action. On Thursday 14th October 76% firefighters returned the ballot papers and of these 76% fire-fighters have voted for a strike. At the time of dispatching this column FBU have not announced date of the strike but it can commence towards the end of this week.  

The impending strike action has resulted from the controversy about shift patterns changes of fire-fighters.  I have consistently argued that the London Fire Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) must look at a range of options for shift changes in conjunction with the FBU and both make genuine attempts to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement. However, the biggest obstacle and the cause for rapidly deteriorating industrial relations since the start of the consultation has been the attitude and approach of the LFEPA’s Chairman and his group on the Authority. To date the Chairman has dismissed my appeal to engage with FBU. The Mayor of London too has failed to show leadership on this by failing to intervene to avert the strike. I lay blame for strike ballot on a lack of political leadership at the top. Strike action by fire-fighters is extremely bad news for Londoners and could have been averted with better leadership. No one wants this strike, least of all Londoners. It is because of the aggressive, confrontational way the Conservatives have gone about trying to force through these changes that we find ourselves in a situation that could have been avoided. Mayor Johnson and his Chairman of the Fire Authority have been spoiling for a fight with the union, rather than showing the leadership and fostering the good relations that would have best served Londoners.   

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22nd October 2010

London Firefighters announce strike dates

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By Martin Hoscik

 

London firefighters are to stage two eight-hour strikes in a row over new employment contracts which would see changes to the lengths of their shifts.

 The Fire Brigades Union announced on Thursday that members in the capital had voted by 3,482 to 943 to take strike action unless Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson “withdraws his letter of 11 August which began the legal process of sacking the capital’s 5557 uniformed and 41 non-operational firefighters.”

The union has now confirmed its members will strike from 10am on October 23rd and November 1st. Speaking earlier this week FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said “Firefighters hate going on strike – but they hate being bullied even more.”

Ahead of the ballot result the London Fire Brigade announced it had “withdrawn” 27 fire engines from stations across the capital “to prepare for the introduction of a contingency fire service” in the event of a strike.

Responding to the announcement of the strike dates. Cllr Coleman said: “Firefighters are going to be striking over plans to reduce a 15 hour night shift by three hours, and add those three hours to a 9 hour day shift. That is all these proposals seek to do, no station closures, no increase in hours and no change to the four day rest period between shifts. This is about making more time in the day for vital training and fire prevention work.

“We’ve been discussing this for five years and have offered to compromise, so it’s time for the FBU to stop blocking these changes.”

Navin Shah, London Assembly member and Labour’s leader on the Fire Authority said the strike was “bad news for Londoners” and claimed it could have been averted with better leadership.

Shah called on Cllr Coleman and Mayor of London Boris Johnson to “get round the table now and avoid a strike that nobody wants.”

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15th October 2010

Navin Shah blames Mayor of London Boris Johnson for firefighter's strike

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A LABOUR member of the fire authority has blamed Boris Johnson for a planned strike.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members voted in favour of the walk-out by more than three to one after a ballot yesterday and will set dates this afternoon.

The industrial action follows a row over contracts to extend day shifts and shorten night shifts.

Firefighters will not be doing any more hours than they are now but say the changes will stop them from seeing their families.

Navin Shah, London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow, placed the blame for the dispute firmly with Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Brian Coleman, head of fire authority the LFEPA.

He said: “No-one wants this strike, least of all Londoners. It is because of the aggressive, confrontational way the Conservatives have gone about trying to force through these changes that we find ourselves in a situation that could have been avoided.

“Boris Johnson and his Conservative chair of the Fire Authority have been spoiling for a fight with the union, rather than showing the leadership and fostering the good relations that would have best served Londoners.

“They should get round the table now and avoid a strike that nobody wants.”

But his comments provoked a furious response from fellow LFEPA member Councillor Susan Hall, who is also leader of the Harrow Council Tory opposition.

She said: “That is absolutely outrageous. He is politically grandstanding yet again. This is way beyond politics and it is absolutely unforgivable for him to play political games. The safety of London is far more important.”

She said the agreement was arrived at cross party and said the strike was “a shame because it won't solve anything”.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This is a huge vote for strike action. Firefighters hate going on strike – but they hate being bullied even more.”

Mr Coleman said: “It’s disappointing and saddening that the only losers in all of this will be firefighters.

“A strike by the FBU will be unnecessary, unjustified and viewed unsympathetically by Londoners. This dispute centres on proposed changes to make people safer.”

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “Our contingency plans will of course now move forward to ensure the capital is protected during any period of strike action by the FBU.”

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15th October 2010

FBU Vote for Industrial Action

I am sad to say that the threat of industrial action looms over the London Fire Brigade this Autumn, over negotiations for new shifts and contracts. The Fire Brigade is overseen by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Association (LFEPA) and in September the Fire Brigades Union voted for industrial action short of a strike in protest at the new shift patterns, which they believe could endanger Londoner’s safety.

As the Labour Leader on LFEPA, I am anxious to see a resolution to this issue which satisfies and reassures these concerns. I have written to the Mayor of London urging him to take over negotiations with the FBU, either directly or through ACAS, but there is no doubt this will prove his first major test in industrial relations. You can find out more about LFEPA at www.london-fire.gov.uk.  

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23rd September 2010