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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