The Mayor of London has been urged to back down on plans to permanently remove 13 fire engines from service in the capital. Local London Assembly Member Onkar Sahota AM wrote to the Mayor after it emerged the proposals included removing a fire engine from Ealing fire station. The letter, which comes ahead of this week’s meeting of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), warns Boris Johnson that his proposed cuts risk having “dire consequences for Londoners” and asks the Mayor to consider alternative proposals which do not threaten frontline services.
At Wednesday’s LFEPA meeting, the Fire Commissioner will present proposals to permanently axe 13 engines, after Boris Johnson ordered the London Fire Brigade to make £13.2 million of further cuts. In 2014 the Mayor axed 14 fire engines and closed 10 stations, resulting in increases in response times across London. In his letter to the Mayor, Mr Sahota warned that cutting more frontline services could further increase attendance times and lead to a “fire service in crisis.”
13 fire engines have already been temporarily withdrawn from service to provide strike cover, but it is unclear if the same 13 will be permanently axed if the Mayor’s cuts go ahead. The Fire Brigade drew up two lists of fire stations from which the 13 appliances could be taken, including Ealing station.
Mr Sahota urged the Mayor to consider alternative proposals put forward by Labour Chair of the Fire Authority’s Resources Committee Andrew Dismore AM which focuses on back office savings and would prevent the removal of the 13 engines.
Labour London Assembly Member Onkar Sahota AM said:
“By doggedly pushing ahead with plans to axe a further 13 fire engines, Boris Johnson has defaulted on his promise to Londoners not to make further frontline cuts to their fire services. After culling 14 fire engines and closing 10 stations in 2014, response times went up. It’s unfathomable that the Mayor could believe permanently axing another 13 fire engines will not further jeopardise the safety of Londoners.
“Whilst the Mayor is insistent upon taking fire engines out of service to meet his planned £13.2 million fire brigade cuts, there is a fully costed alternative which will keep the 13 engines. Boris Johnson needs to listen to this proposal and back down on any plans which could see Ealing lose frontline services.
“Boris Johnson urgently needs to come to the realisation that he can achieve his savings target without threatening the frontline, without putting Londoners at risk and without cutting fire engines.”