Plans to close 10 fire stations and axe 14 fire engines have been blocked by members of London’s fire authority.
Earlier this year London Fire Brigade managers, led by Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson, drew up plans to axe 12 stations and 18 fire engines and cut 520 jobs in order to meet cuts in central Government and City Hall funding.
A majority of fire authority members opposed the plans and only approved a public consultation after Mayor Boris Johnson used his power to direct the authority to proceed.
As part of the consultation the authority held a series of meetings, allowing Londoners to question senior fire brigade officials and authority members about the closures.
As a result of the consultation Commissioner Dobson revised the plans, reducing the number of stations and engines due to be axed by increasing the the number of jobs to be lost from 520 to 552.
The plan also includes measures to reclaim more money from building owners responsible for false alarms and from neighbouring areas where the London Fire Brigade attends instead of a local fire crew.
The revised final plan was rejected by a majority of authority members on Thursday.
Opponents say the Mayor could avoid making cuts by abandoning a planned 7p per week cut in his share of the council tax.
However the Mayor’s allies say this would still leave a shortfall and that delaying reforms now would mean having to make deeper cuts, including compulsory redundancies, at a later date.
Labour’s fire spokesperson, Navin Shah AM, said authority members had to listen to the large numbers of Londoners who had signed petitions against the cuts.
Mr Shah said: “Thousands of Londoners have taken to streets to show their anger at plans to cut this most valued emergency service. We have seen an unprecedented level of engagement and response against Boris’s cuts to the London Fire Brigade.”
Darren Johnson, who represents the Green party on the authority and London Assembly, added: “The fire authority’s decision today to reject this completely unnecessary fire cuts package sends a clear message to the Mayor of London – re-assess your budget priorities and halt these dangerous proposals now.
Liberal Democrat Stephen Knight said: “The cuts have again been opposed by the elected members of the Fire Authority. These savage cuts in London’s fire service are being driven solely by the Mayor’s obsession with a 7 pence cut in the council tax.”
“The ball is now back in Boris Johnson’s court. Even at this late hour he should listen to Londoners and reverse these dangerous cuts which if implemented will drive up response times across large parts of London.”
“Through the public consultation, Londoners made it very clear that, rather than getting a trifling 7p-per-week council tax cut, they want their life-saving public services to remain intact. Government cuts are harsh but the Mayor is making a bad situation worse by insisting on council tax cuts too.”
City Hall says the Mayor is taking advice ahead of deciding whether to direct the authority to implement the cuts.
In a statement Mayor Johnson said: “I am disappointed the Fire Authority has once again shirked their responsibilities to deliver a balanced budget, leaving the service in an increasingly precarious position.
“I am seeking advice so this can be rectified as quickly as possible to provide financial and organisational stability for London’s fire service.”