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Local councils threaten legal action over London fire-station closures

PUBLISHED: 17:16 27 August 2013 | UPDATED: 17:16 27 August 2013

Eight local authorities across London have today written to the Community Secretary threatening legal action over plans to close 10 fire stations and reduce emergency cover at others.

They are urging Eric Pickles to overrule Mayor Boris Johnson’s controversial decision earlier this month.

The authorities in east London, north London and south of the river are preparing to seek a judicial review if the appeal to the Secretary of State fails.

“We believe Boris Johnson’s decision to cut vital emergency services may put people’s lives at risk,” Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman said.

“London is densely populated and needs local, reliable emergency services to keep its people, businesses and visitors safe.”

Fire stations facing the axe include Bow, Silvertown and Kingsland in east London, as well as Clerkenwell, Woolwich, Belsize, Southwark, Downham, Knightsbridge and Westminster.

But in addition, many remaining fire-stations are losing crews and machines, effectively reducing their emergency cover. These include four in east London, Whitechapel and three in Waltham Forest.

Boris’s proposals, which ignores the London Emergency Fire Authority’s rejection earlier this month, means the loss of 14 machines and 552 firfe-fighters.

Today’s letter to the Secretary of State points out that the London mayor’s action is “inconsistent with the Fire and Rescue National Framework”.

The councils argue that the decision ignores the fire risks posed by tall buildings, deprivation status of inner urban areas and concentrations of social housing, as well as tourist attractions such as Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

The eight authorities are Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Greenwich, Islington, Camden, Lewisham and Southwark.

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