London fire station closure public consultation begins

Fire Brigade Union members protest against the cuts
Image caption Members of the Fire Brigades Union have called the cuts "reckless"

Members of the public have been asked for their views on plans to close 12 London fire stations.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) proposes making savings of nearly £29m over two years by also cutting 520 jobs and removing 18 fire engines.

It is in response to budget savings required by the government and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

The Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) said the cuts are "reckless" and will jeopardise public safety.

'Continued excellent response'

The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), the body which governs the fire service, has recorded its opposition to the station closures.

The authority had rejected Mr Johnson's order to hold a public consultation but, after he threatened legal action, members voted to authorise it.

Last year the LFB was told it must save more than £65m in two years.

LFB Commissioner Ron Dobson has conceded because of improved fire safety the brigade attends half as many fires as it did 10 years ago.

But he said: "There is always more to be done.

"In the future, the resources available to the brigade will reduce and the number of people who can work for the brigade and provide our services will also reduce.

"We have passed the point where we can make the necessary level of savings without any impact on our fire stations."

He added the brigade could make savings and continue to provide "an excellent emergency response service".

The FBU has urged members of the public to make their views known.

Last week regional secretary for the FBU in London, Paul Embery, said: "The starting gun has been fired, and we want Londoners to join with us in defending their fire service."

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