London Fire Authority throws out Mayor Boris's directive to close fire-stations
PUBLISHED: 19:42 11 February 2013 | UPDATED: 08:09 12 February 2013
Boris Johnson's bid to shut down 12 fire stations to reduce Council Tax by 7p a week could be met with a legal challenge after the London Fire Authority today (Mon) rejected his plans.
He had the power to ‘direct’ today’s meeting to accept his two-year London Safety Review to reduce the emergency services budget by £9 million, after members threw it out last month.
But the authority, in an unprecedented move, rejected his directive—which could now lead to the Mayor taking members to court.
The move has given a temporary reprieve to the fire stations including Whitechapel and Silvertown in east London and those facing reduced cover such as Bow.
Labour’s motion that the authority “instructs the Commissioner not to comply with the direction of the Mayor” issued on January 30 was backed by Lib Dem and Green Party members—enough to throw it into touch.
Labour’s group spokesman said: “Rejecting Boris’s directive is unprecedented—it’s not been done before and could lead to court action against members.”
Monday’s Fire Authority challenge to the Mayor follows last Friday’s rejection of his budget at the London Assembly, aimed at stopping police stations as well as fire stations closing.
The Assembly voted to freeze the GLA’s slice of Council Tax at £307 for a Band D household rather than accept the Mayor’s annual £3.72 tax reduction, which would put an extra £9.4 million in the pot.
Just over half would go on the fire service, with the rest for the Met Police to keep front counters for the public and local offices for Neighbourhood teams.
Labour’s John Biggs, whose east London constituency takes in Whitechapel and Silvertown fire-stations and four police stations facing the axe in Stratford, Poplar, Isle of Dogs and Plaistow, said: “We’re being asked to accept a few crumbs with a 7p-a-week cut in Council Tax—in exchange for dangerous and irreversible cuts to emergency services.”
Assembly member Stephen Knight said: “Every second counts when it comes to tackling fires—people’s lives are worth more than 7p a week!”
Opponents say they’d rather pay the 7p and keep police and fire stations open.