London fire closure plans: Authority votes against mayor
- 11 February 2013
- From the section London
The London Fire Authority has voted not to comply with Boris Johnson's order for a public consultation on plans to close 12 fire stations.
The authority decided to reject the mayor's unprecedented step of directing the authority to hold the consultation.
At a meeting earlier, the authority said it could not do this as it did not support the plans which are aimed at saving £45m with a loss of 520 jobs.
Mr Johnson may now have to take legal action against the authority.
Earlier this year, London Assembly Members narrowly decided to hold a public consultation on future plans, without involving the closures.
But Mr Johnson took the unprecedented step of directing it to move towards a consultation on cost-cutting measures.
He said London Fire Brigade crews attended half as many fires as a decade ago, while fire deaths were down by a third.
Labour's London Assembly fire spokesman Navin Shah urged Mr Johnson to think again and said the Labour group had presented him with a fully-costed plan, which would keep the stations open.
"Boris has a clear choice - he can either cut council tax by 7p a week, or he can freeze it and use the money to keep our fire stations open," he said.
"By axing 12 fire stations and 18 fire engines Boris is jeopardising the safety and security of Londoners."
Terry Stacy, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the fire authority, said: "Once again the mayor has been sent a very powerful message about how strongly opposed London's elected politicians are to his dangerous proposals to close fire stations, remove engines and cut staff."
Meanwhile Colin Tandy, a Conservative member of the authority, said hundreds of thousands of pounds could be spent on legal costs if the dispute ends up in court.
"In the end, the mayor will win," he said. "He is within his rights - we should get on with consulting the public."
London fire commissioner Ron Dobson has proposed cutting around 10% of frontline firefighter posts, adding he hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies.
The number of fire stations would be reduced to 100 under the proposals.
However, Mr Johnson said he had ordered the directive because the fire authority's plans were unfit for purpose and unsustainable in budget terms."