Only one resident attends meeting on Silvertown fire station closure
- Credit: Steve Poston
Only a single resident turned out for a meeting last night consulting on the proposed closure of Silvertown Fire Station, which critics say will put lives at risk.
In contrast around a hundred people turned out for the equivalent meeting held by the London Fire Brigade in Tower Hamlets, where Bow station is set to close.
Across London 12 stations have been earmarked for closure with 520 firefighters jobs set to be axed. Overall there will also be 18 fewer fire engines.
Figures released last week show that the closure of Silvertown Fire Station would lead to an increase of 3.12 minutes in response times to fires in the Royal Docks area.
London Assembly Member Fiona Twycross, who sat on the panel during the meeting at Newham Town Hall in East Ham, afterwards described the increase as “dramatic” and said it could mean the difference between live and death for residents.
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She said: “A fire can quadruple every two minutes and these figures show that for pockets of London, such as the Royal Docks, these changes can be dramatic.
“For Newham with a lot of high rise buildings, population density, vulnerable residents, heavy industry, and traffic congestion for fire engines to get through this is a further worry.”
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The changes to response times were revealed during a presentation at the meeting by London Fire Brigade Commissioner Ron Dobson on how he proposes to make the £45million worth of savings over two years to the service demanded by government.
Mr Dobson said: “Some areas will see improvements in attendance times while in some it will be detrimental.”
But he added that across London the average response time will still be within six minutes.
He also pointed out that East Ham and Plaistow fire stations also cover the Royal Docks area.
Mr Dobson included the response times in his presentation after being accused of hiding the impact of shutting down stations at the Tower Hamlets meeting the previous evening with local politicians looking up the figures online during a heated meeting.
The only local politician present during part of the Newham meeting was Councillor Unmesh Desai.
Defending the spending cuts was Conservative London Assembly member James Cleverly, who said that the London Fire Brigade had to make savings like other public services. But he added: “That is why we have these meetings so we can make sure we have checked we are making the right changes.”
The consultation comes after the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), the political body overseeing the London Fire Brigade, voted down the London Mayor’s saving proposals.
But Mr Johnson used his executive powers to order the consultation to go ahead.
Visit www.london-fire.gov.uk/LSP5.asp to respond to the consultation on cuts to the London Fire Brigade.