A High Court bid to stop the closure of 10 fire stations and axing of 14 fire engines has failed.
The cuts form part of London Safety Plan 5 which also includes measures to reclaim money from building owners responsible for false alarms and from neighbouring areas where the Brigade attends instead of a local fire crew.
LSP5 was drawn up by Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson in response to cuts in City Hall and UK Government funding for the London Fire Brigade.
A majority of members on the capital’s fire authority opposed the reductions, though many backed other aspects of the plan, and only proceeded with a consultation on them after being instructed to do so by Mayor Boris Johnson.
Following the consultation, the plan was revised to reduce the number of engines and stations being cut but increasing the numbers of jobs being lost.
After authority members voted not to implement the plan, the Mayor used his powers to direct them to do so. Members then hired lawyers to explore whether grounds existed to challenge the Mayor’s direction in the courts.
However the legal advice made clear that no such grounds existed, and a second lawyer warned that continuing to defy the Mayor opened members to legal sanctions.
Although the authority eventually agreed to implement LSP5 in full, a number of London councils sought a Judicial Review of the closures.
Islington, Southwark, Camden, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Lewisham and Greenwich councils claimed the station and engine closures “would have an impact on public safety” and that “the consultation process was unlawful.”
Commissioner Dobson has repeatedly denied that the the plan would endanger Londoners while the Mayor has insisted that public safety has always been his key priority.
Sitting at the High Court, Mr Justice Foskett ruled the decision-making process behind the closures was lawful.
Commenting on the verdict, Labour London Assembly and fire authority member Fiona Twycross said: “We are deeply disappointed at this decision, it now means that the Mayor can force his unpopular cuts through and axe 10 fire stations, 12 fire engines and 550 firefighters.
“This will lead to significantly increased response times to incidents across London.
“These cuts are due to start on 9th January, this is a grim new year’s present for people across our city, Boris should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.”
Liberal Democrat Stephen Knight AM said: “The court may have ruled the Mayor acted legally in closing 10 fire stations, but it was still wrong and will make Londoners less safe.”
James Cleverly AM, Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said: “The London Safety Plan was carefully and professionally produced and sets out how we will continue to deliver an excellent fire and rescue service for Londoners.
“The Plan also includes efficiencies that will achieve a saving of £29m, making a significant contribution to the £45m we need to make over the next two years.
“I welcome today’s decision which allows us to remove the uncertainty hanging over our staff and proceed to implementation.”