London fire service cuts will hit hardest in East End, MP Rushanara Ali warns
PUBLISHED: 15:29 05 November 2012
The threat of closing down 17 London fire stations would be felt hardest in the deprived East End, MP Rushanara Ali has told Parliament.
It follows the Mayor of London’s leaked plans to close the fire stations, including two out of three in her East End constituency, as part of the Government’s £65 million cuts to fire services budget.
The reductions would mean the East End facing “the deepest cut to the fire service in the whole of London,” she warned Friday’s Commons emergency debate on the emergency service.
“Tower Hamlets has the highest rates of fire calls in the whole of London,” she told MPs.
“Yet Boris Johnson thinks stripping it of a third of its fire stations is a sensible idea.”
Closing Whitechapel and Bow fire-stations would leave her Bethnal Green & Bow constituency with nearly 100 fewer firefighters and support staff, four fewer appliances, and just one remaining fire-station, according to a leaked document last month. This would result from the Government slashing the national fire services budget by a quarter.
“I am shocked at the Government and the London Mayor’s apparent willingness to take such risks with people’s safety,” she added.
Rushanara called on the Mayor to reverse the plans “as nothing is more important than protecting lives.”
The debate was led by Brent North MP Barry Gardiner, who has now called for an ‘equality impact’ assessment to be carried out, claiming the cuts will have a disproportionate effect on ethnic minorities from the translation teams being reduced who are on hand at the emergency 999 call centre.
MPs fear the cuts would mean longer times for fire crews reaching emergencies—despite assurances from the Mayor that current targets of six minutes for the first fire-engine to arrive and eight minutes for the second will be maintained.