Following the closure of Bow Fire Stn, Cllr Sirajul Islam asks how much our safety is worth


- Credit: Archant

There are few things more important than our emergency services. Whether policing our streets, healing the sick or fighting fires, the public servants who make up our emergency services are the backbone which our community rely upon.

It is this fact, and the importance of their role, that made it even harder for me to understand why Boris Johnson chose to close Bow fire station and halve the number of engines at Whitechapel.

Of course there is a debate to be had about investment in our public services, but decisions on spending have to be sensible. In a borough which has the highest number of fire service call-outs in the capital it seems absurd that Boris chose fire stations as the place he most wanted to cut.

As a result of that closure it will now take almost seven- and-a-half minutes for a fire engine to arrive at incidents in Bow, longer for those in the far north east of the borough. I’m sure for people watching their homes, or worse, succumbing to fire those seven-and-a-half minutes will feel a lifetime longer than the four minutes it takes at the moment.

The tragedy for those living in the area’s high-rise tower blocks is that seven-and-a-half minutes represents the time it takes to get to a building. If you live on the top floor we are talking a lot longer before help arrives.

To risk all of this you might think there must be some great reward. Sadly not. In exchange for closing 10 of the capital’s fire stations and cutting the number of engines at numerous others, Boris will save you a penny a day from your council tax.

I believe that a penny a day saving is not worth putting Londoners’ lives at risk. That is why we campaigned for over a year against these closures. Our work earned a six-month reprieve, but ultimately Boris’s refusal to compromise forced the cuts through.

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So when Boris tells how he’s cutting council tax, just remember by how much (a penny a day) and at what cost (by putting Londoners’ lives at risk).