Petition goes to City Hall to stop Bow and Silvertown fire-stations closing

The first of two petitions has been handed in to Boris Johnson protesting at the threat to axe east London fire stations.

Protesters are fighting to stop Bow and Silvertown fire-stations closing, which are among 11 under threat across London.

The second petition is being handed in next Monday.

London Assembly budget chairman John Biggs has sent a letter with the first petition in which he tells the mayor: “I share the concerns of councillors and residents at the drastic cuts you are imposing, purely for purpose of balancing the books.

“Bow is heavily built up and I genuinely fear for the safety of constituents in any emergency.”

Whitechapel fire-station on the City Fringe is also being reduced from eight crews to just four, operating one fire-tender, according to the Fire Brigades’ Union.

The move could lead to the first industrial action in 10 years by London’s fire-fighters.

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The union’s London secretary Paul Embery said: “The cuts would be completely unacceptable—we would oppose any closure vigorously.” He would not rule out strike action.

The East End in particular has more emergencies than any other part of London, while Tower Hamlets is one of the most densely-populated London boroughs, the union points out.

The proposals go before the London Fire Authority next Monday (Jan 21), followed by a public consultation running until June.

The cuts have also been slammed by Tower Hamlets councillors. Labour’s Marc Francis, whose Bow East ward includes the threatened fire-station in Parnell Road, said: “Making the cuts to reduce Council Tax by 7p a week shows the Mayor is putting his own political ambitions to become Prime Minister ahead of his duty to safeguard ordinary Londoners.”

The population of the Bow and Old Ford districts are set to rise further with the Leaside regeneration, he points out. More tower blocks are going up with more families and children moving in.

Hundreds of residents have signed his petition which is being handed in to City Hall on Monday.

Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushanara Ali warned the Commons in November that the £65 million fire service budget slash would mean the East End facing “the deepest cut in the whole of London.”