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City Hall votes against London fire engine cuts

PUBLISHED: 14:07 17 February 2016 | UPDATED: 14:55 17 February 2016

Under Option B, 13 fire engines would be taken permanently out of operation

Under Option B, 13 fire engines would be taken permanently out of operation

Archant

Firefighters await the mayor of London’s final decision after plans to keep pumps were backed by City Hall.

This morning’s vote sparked a fiery debate at the end of a consultation on how best to axe £11m from London Fire Brigade’s 2016/17 budget – with members in favour of alternate crewing by ten to six votes.

Andrew Dismore, London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden, tabled the motion. Speaking after the meeting, he said: “I am pleased that the authority as a whole has agreed the proposal we have developed.

“I hope that the mayor will look at this in a constructive way and accept what we are proposing, but somehow I doubt it.”

Against the mood of his crews, fire commissioner Ron Dobson has consistently recommended Option B. This would see 13 fire engines that have been out of use for two-and-a-half years taken permanently out of operation.

Speaking in favour of Option B, Londonwide assembly member Gareth Bacon said the support of 70 per cent of the respondents for alternate crewing was “not a ringing endorsement”, adding that 99.98 per cent were “not moved to respond to the consultation at all”.

In a letter written by deputy mayor Sir Edward Lister, it was indicated that mayor Boris Johnson would likely to vote in favour of Option B “primarily on grounds of financial prudence”.

But Dismore said disregarding the views of 1,500 respondents was “putting up two fingers to the public”. He added: “The public has made their views known and we are ignoring them.”

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) official Gareth Beeton emphasised that the union did not support any kind of cuts, adding: “Of the two options, the one with the least amount of job losses and the one where we will keep the 13 engines is Option A.”

The Mayor is expected to make his decision by March 17.

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