Protesters bring London Assembly to a halt over threats to axe fire-stations

Protesters brought the London Assembly to a halt today over plans to shut 12 fire-stations and reduce emergency coverage at 18 more.

Campaigners from east London battling to stop Bow and Silvertown fire-stations being axed were among the demonstrators in the packed public gallery who staged a walk-out in protest.

Boris Johnson came under pressure at Mayor’s Question Time just before the meeting was curtailed over his plans which would see the loss of 520 firefighters.

The hit list includes Whitechapel facing having to lose one fire-appliance and the four crews operating it round-the-clock, as well as closing Bow and Silvertown.

The Assembly’s budget chairman John Biggs, who represents East London, accused the Mayor of being reckless.

“Boris showed total contempt for the people of east London,” he said afterwards.

“Public meetings have shown that people fear for their safety and are understandably worried.

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“They don’t trust him and are against his reckless closure plans because he’s ducked and dived to evade calls to scrap the plans.”

The Fire Brigade has already saved £66 million from the back office, the protesters pointed out. The cuts were to fund his penny-a-day council tax cut which campaigners argue would only save £3.70 a year—while increasing the risk of reduced fire rescue.

Final consultation results are being thrashed out at the London Fire Authority next month. The authority itself voted earlier this year against the proposals—but it is the executive Mayor himself who decides whether to force the cuts through.