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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