by Mike Brooke
Monday, January 21, 2013
The threatened closures of 12 fire stations including two in east London have been rejected today by the London Fire & Emergency Authority.
It followed a mass rally by hundreds of firefighters from across London this afternoon outside the Fire Authority’s headquarters in Southwark when the proposed cuts were being thrashed out.
Authority members voted against a public consultation on plans to close Bow, Silvertown and nine other fire stations, as well as reducing cover at seven locations including Whitechapel.
Around 400 firefighters and 100 civilian staff would be made redundant if the cuts were to go ahead.
Now London Assembly members have called on the Mayor to scrap the 7p cut in council tax that scrapping the fire-stations would make.
Assembly member Darren Johnson said: “The Mayor must now decide whether or not to ignore the will of the authority and push these dangerous cuts through.
“A far better solution would be to scrap his proposed 7p-a-week council tax cut and use the savings to halt these closures.”
What could have tipped the balance was last week’s helicopter crash in Vauxhall in which the pilot and a man on the ground were killed and a dozen other passers-by were injured.
Emergency crews from across London were called to the scene, including a fire-crew from Whitechapel which faces losing half its cover.
Speakers at today’s rally included Fire Brigade Union general secretary Matt Wrack, a former Shadwell firefighter, and RMT union’s Bob Crow, as well as MPs such as Kate Hoey and Andrew Dismore.
They have been campaigning to halt the Mayor’s ‘London Safety Plan’ which would reduce the emergency service budget over the next two years by £29 million.