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Boris to use powers to ensure Westminster and Knightsbridge Fire Stations close
WESTMINSTER and Knightsbridge Fire Stations remain at risk this week after the Mayor of London today announced he will use his powers to ensure 12 fire stations across London will close.
The Mayoral directive will be used to block the Fire Authority's rejection of the proposal to close 12 fire stations at yesterday's meeting, allowing the proposed consultation into the cuts to go ahead.
The London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) voted against a consultation to close 12 fire stations, take away 18 fire engines and make 400 fire fighters and 100 civilian staff redundant.
This will be the first time Boris had used a Mayoral Directive and will act to override the Members of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority to ensure the consultation goes ahead.
The LFB need to cut a total of £54.4m from the service. They have already found £14m by cutting back office staff and the closures and engine reductions will save another £28.8m, so they still need to find an additional £2.6m from other cuts.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said today: "LFEPA has a responsibility to deliver a balanced budget based on sensible plans for fire safety provision in the capital. I am of course always willing to listen to submissions but it's quite clear today's decision offers nothing positive, indeed it demonstrates a complete lack of leadership.
"This must and will be about improving London's fire service, equipping the brigade for the challenges of 21st century firefighting, and maintaining our exceptional response times across both inner and outer London. We secured a better than expected financial settlement for LFEPA - the best of any similar authority in England - and history shows the difficulties organisations get into when they don't face up to their financial responsibilities. This consultation will continue as planned. I will be issuing a Mayoral directive to ensure it does."
An amendment was made by Labour members, which was supported by Liberal Democrat and Green members of the Authority. The amendment means the Authority has not agreed to consultation on the part of the plan that deals with the closure of fire stations, or loss of appliances or firefighters.
Paul Embery, regional secretary for London at the Fire Brigades Union, said: "These proposed cuts are dangerous and wrong. If they are implemented, they will undoubtedly jeopardise the safety of Londoners and firefighters alike.
"The London Fire Brigade now faces perhaps the biggest threat to its ability to function since the Second World War."
Councillor Pat Mason of the RBKC Labour Opposition Group said: "Boris Johnson only cares about balancing his budget, not about the safety of our residents and business who will be left with inadequate fire cover when he closes Knightsbridge Fire station and removes a fire engine from Chelsea. He says he's willing to listen to other views but has refused to listen to his own Fire Authority who don't want the deaths of Londoners on their conscience if they are burned to death in fires because of the cuts they refused to vote for."
Over the coming days, the London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson will be discussing with officers what this means in terms of setting the Authority's budget and finding the savings of £45m that are still needed over the next two years.
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