London

Livingstone: Fire control centre plans 'a new low'

Labour's mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone has described proposals to outsource a fire brigade control centre to other providers as "a new low".

The London Assembly's Labour group said London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) documents revealed plans to outsource the centre by March.

The party said the move could put Londoners at risk.

London mayor Boris Johnson said claims that lives would be at risk were "false, misleading and irresponsible".

The document, which was produced in March, said responsibilities for day-to-day "service delivery" should be outsourced "wherever possible" to save money.

The process would need to consider the "full range of options in terms of who provides services" including community organisations, co-operatives and staff taking over services themselves, the document said.

Response times

It added that the process of procuring should start immediately and report to the authority with a decision no later than March 2012.

In a joint statement with London Assembly member Val Shawcross, Mr Livingstone said the proposal threatened to undermine the quality of service and response times.

Mr Johnson said the brigade was looking at a number of options to save money and improve efficiency in their call centres, which deal with on average of 2.5 million calls a year.

"They aim to improve service and ensure that every call is dealt with as quickly as possible," he added.

"Londoners deserve a first class 999 service and that is exactly what the fire brigade will continue to deliver."

A spokesman for London Fire Brigade said: "At this stage, we are looking at a range of options to see if it is possible to run our 999 control centre at less cost while maintaining the first class service it provides."

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