London Assembly: ‘Mayor forcing fire station cuts against public opinion’

PUBLISHED: 10:38 12 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:10 15 July 2013

London Assembly's John Biggs and other protesters picket City Hall over Bow fire-station threat

London Assembly's John Biggs and other protesters picket City Hall over Bow fire-station threat

Labour Pty

Boris Johnson is pushing ahead with his plans to shut two fire stations and reduce cover at a third in east London with its rising population and highest number of emergencies—while making U-turns on closures elsewhere.

Protest over Whitechapel's reduced emergency fire coverProtest over Whitechapel's reduced emergency fire cover

The Mayor’s final list 10 closures include Bow and Silvertown, which goes before the London Fire Authority next week.

Reprieve has come for New Cross and Clapham in south London, after the original list of 12 was rejected earlier this year by the authority.

But he is continuing to steam ahead “to force the rest of the cuts through,” a London Assembly Labour Group statement said last night.

Assembly Member John Biggs, who represents east London at City Hall, accused the Mayor of putting the public at risk by reducing emergency cover to pay for a 7p-a-week council tax reduction.

"Boris is making emergency service cuts to fund his penny a day council tax cut"

London Assembly’s John Biggs

“People are united against closing Bow and Silvertown—but he’s going ahead with his ill-thought-out plan anyway,” he said.

“East London has been unfairly hit with Boris choosing to close two fire stations and reducing emergency cover at Whitechapel.

“Two proposed closures have been reversed in south London—so I’m not clear why Bow or Silvertown are going ahead.”

He added: “Boris is making cuts to emergency services to fund his penny a day council tax cut, even though the Fire Brigade has already saved £66 million.”

Labour MP Rushanara Ali, whose East End constituency includes Bow fire-station, accused the Mayor of “putting lives at risk when every second matters responding to a fire.”

The cuts will hit the East End worst, with its high population growth, the many high-rise towers and Tower Hamlets recording the most emergencies of any London borough, critics point out.

Labour’s Community Safety spokesman on Tower Hamlets Council, Mizan Chaudhury, said: “The cuts serve no strategic purpose and are plainly to give Boris his 7p tax gimmick. Who would trade their safety for 7p a week?”

The Mayor’s final list of 10 fire station closures, which also includes neighbouring Kingsland-Dalston and Clerkenwell and reductions at others, is likely to face tough opposition at next week’s Fire Authority meeting.

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