VIDEO: Firefighters march to City Hall against plans to close Bow fire station
PUBLISHED: 18:26 14 June 2013 | UPDATED: 09:39 18 June 2013
Firefighters marched to City Hall today in solidarity against the planned closure of Bow fire station.
Union representatives, politicians and serving firefighters joined the protest against the proposed closure of the station in Parnell Road – which is one of 12 under threat in London.
Addressing the rally in Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel, regional secretary of the London Fire Brigades Union Paul Embery said: “It’s very important that we have the widest possible campaign against these cuts because people’s lives will depend on it.
“You don’t have to be an expert on the fire service to realise that if your fire station closes and you have to rely on a fire station from several miles away then you’re going to be at much greater risk.”
Campaigners handed a petition against the planned cuts into City Hall, which is seeking savings of £45million from the London Fire Brigade’s budget over the next two years.
Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman also addressed the crowd of around 60 people at the rally.
“We do not accept these cuts from Boris Johnson,” he said. “It will ensure that as a community we could be jeopardised, our safety could be compromised.”
Despite two public meetings where fire chiefs and London Assembly Members were angrily confronted over the threat to services, firefighters from Bow were left disappointed with the turnout for Friday’s march.
Simon Wilkinson, who has served at the station for 28 years, said: “We have had a good turnout with the two meetings, and we got to this march and the support has somehow melted away - which is disappointing to say the least.”
A meeting held at St Paul’s Church, in St Stephen’s Road, Old Ford, on Wednesday evening last week fire chiefs came in for more criticism.
But the brigade’s deputy commissioner Rita Dexter said: “We’ve saved £60m over the last four years but need to save another £45m over the next two years.
“We have done this up until now by cutting what we call ‘back office’ in order to protect the front line - but there isn’t any more back office to cut.”
Watch a video of the march above, or view the ‘galleries’ section of our website for more pictures.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East London Advertiser. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.