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Navin's News: LFEPA

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.”

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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

 

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13th February 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

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.

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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

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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.

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

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