Labour London Assembly Member Dr Onkar Sahota has hit out at the Mayor of London after he said he would overrule the London Fire Authority after they voted not to scrap thirteen London fire engines, including one in Ealing. The decision not to cut the fire engines was taken on Wednesday (17th) by members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) after a public consultation found 82% of respondents were opposed to the Mayor’s plan to axe thirteen London fire engines.
In a letter to LFEPA members on Thursday (18th) Boris Johnson’s Chief of Staff confirmed the Mayor would to use his powers to overrule the democratic Fire Authority’s decision, backed by the public consultation, not to scrap the thirteen fire engines.
The consultation results published recently revealed that 70% of the 1,478 respondents supported fully funded alternative proposals (Option A) put forward by Andrew Dismore AM, which would retain the 13 fire engines and make the required savings by changing the way some engines are crewed, allowing one crew to run different types of fire appliance to ensure all of the Fire Brigade’s current engines are able to stay in service. Only 18% of respondents supported Option B which would see the 13 fire engines scrapped.
In January 2014 the Mayor’s last round of cuts to the Fire Brigade saw him order the closure of 10 fire stations with the loss of 14 fire engines. Following the closures London saw a significant increase in response times with rises in 401 of London’s 654 wards when compared with the year before the cuts were forced through.
Labour London Assembly Member for Ealing, Dr Onkar Sahota AM, said:
“The Fire Authority has made it clear that we, like the majority of the public, don’t support axing London fire engines, when safer alternatives exist. It’s outrageous that the Mayor now intends to trample over both the democratic decision of the Fire Authority and the very clear message sent by the public against scrapping these vital fire engines.
“Axing these thirteen fire engines will lead to a less safe London with fewer resources available to respond to serious incidents. We’ve already seen response times go up since Boris’ last round of cuts. When there is a viable and fully funded alternative on the table, trampling over public opinion and scrapping these fire engines is irresponsible and dangerous.”