Firefighters set for showdown with London mayor
Hundreds of firefighters joined a lobby demanding a halt to drastic cuts in the service in London.
Photo report by Peter Arkell
London firefighters face a showdown with Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, who plans to overrule a decision to block proposals to close 12 fire stations with the loss of hundreds of jobs.
A meeting of the authority that oversees the fire service in London on 21 January overturned a plan for deep cuts in the service that had been proposed by the fire commissioner.
An alliance of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green members voted narrowly against. The vote means the authority has not agreed to go ahead with consultations over the cuts. But Johnson has the power to overturn this decision and is planning to do so.
The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority in a statement said that discussions would continue to find the “savings of £45m that are still needed over the next two years”.
A demonstration of over 300 firefighters outside the meeting of the authority make their anger known to the meeting inside. They listened as the speakers, including the RMT's Bob Crow (who told the TUC to wake up), Labour MPs and FBU general secretary Matt Wrack all condemned the cuts.
The stations earmarked for closure are: Belsize, Bow, Clapham, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, New Cross, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich.
FBU regional secretary for London, Paul Embery said: “These proposed cuts are dangerous and wrong. If they are implemented, they will undoubtedly jeopardise the safety of Londoners and firefighters alike. The London Fire Brigade now faces perhaps the biggest threat to its ability to function since the Second World War.
“You can’t slash 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighter posts”, he went on “without jeopardising public safety. The helicopter crash that occurred showed the importance of having a properly-funded, well-resourced fire service in the capital, and it is worthy of note that the first crew at the scene was mobilised from a station – Clapham – earmarked for closure and arrived within four minutes. The safety of Londoners is playing second fiddle to crude economic considerations”.
22 January 2013