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

Labour London Assembly Member Joanne McCartney 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. 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 recently 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 wardswhen compared with the year before the cuts were forced through.

Labour London Assembly Member for Enfield and Haringey, Joanne McCartney 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.”

Notes

  • A copy of the letter from the Mayor of London’s Chief of Staff to LFEPA members confirming the Mayor would use his powers to overrule their decision is available here.
  • The results of the LFB consultation into the proposed cuts to the Fire Brigade area available here. (begins page 11 halfway down) and reads:

Preferred options

69. The consultation questionnaire asked respondents which option they preferred (‘Option A’ or ‘Option B’) and the reasons for their preference. In addition, respondents also had the opportunity to select a ‘Neither’ option.

70. A sizable majority of respondents chose Option A as their preferred option (70 per cent). Option B was chosen by 18 per cent of respondents, and ‘Neither’ was selected by 11 per cent. One per cent of respondents offered no selection.

71. This response was broadly reflected across respondent types. The only exception to this was from those respondents who identified themselves as ‘Elected Members’. In this case, Option B was the preferred option (54 per cent). The numbers of ‘Elected Members’ responding however was much smaller (34) compared to 328 staff, and 1,078 responses from the public.

  • The 13 fire engines which would be permanently lost are based at the below fire stations. The pumps in question have already been temporarily withdrawn.
13 fire stations with pumps at risk:
Erith  LB Bexley
Willesden  LB Brent
Ealing  LB Ealing
Shoreditch  LB Hackney
Romford  LB Havering
Holloway  LB Islington
Chelsea  LB Kensington and Chelsea
Forest Hill  LB Lewisham
Plaistow  LB Newham
Stratford  LB Newham
Old Kent Road  LB Southwark
Poplar  LB Tower Hamlets
Wandsworth  LB Wandsworth