Firefighters urge authority to resist mayor Johnson's cuts demand
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has called on members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) to resist a demand from the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, that they back down in their opposition to deep cuts in the London Fire Brigade.
The mayor wants to close 12 fire stations, remove 18 engines and slash 520 firefighter posts in an effort to save £45m.
A special meeting of LFEPA will take place at 1.00pm on Monday 11 February, at the brigade’s headquarters in Union Street, Southwark.
The meeting was called after the mayor took the unprecedented step of overturning a decision by the authority, taken at its meeting on 21 January, to reject the cuts on the grounds of public safety.
In a “mayoral direction”, Johnson instructed the commissioner to ignore the vote of the authority and press ahead with consultation over the cuts.
However, in a report which will be circulated at Monday’s meeting, the commissioner admits that he does not have the power to act on the mayoral direction without explicit approval from authority members.
The FBU’s regional secretary for London, Paul Embery, said:
“We urge LFEPA members to hold their nerve. They were right to reject the cuts at their previous meeting, and we think they should do so again.
“We do not believe they are under any legal obligation to comply with the mayor’s authoritarian demand. But there is certainly a moral duty on them not to support proposals that would jeopardise public safety.
“According to the commissioner’s own predictions, around 4.7million Londoners across twenty boroughs would wait longer for a fire engine if the cuts went ahead. That is simply unacceptable, and we hope fire authority members will stick to their guns.”
Last month, 300 firefighters from across the capital lobbied the LFEPA meeting. An alliance of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green members voted narrowly against the cuts.
The stations earmarked for closure are: Belsize, Bow, Clapham, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, New Cross, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich.
8 February 2013