London’s fire authority has been threatened with a Judicial Review after it voted to ignore a Mayoral Directive ordering it to consult on a new London safety plan which see fire stations closed.
The proposals to close 12 fire stations and axe 18 engines form part of the London Fire Brigade’s efforts to meet £45m of budget cuts imposed by Central Government and City Hall.
Fire Commissioner Rob Dobson has promised the closures will not affect the safety of Londoners.
Critics say Mayor Boris Johnson could save the fire stations by scrapping his planned 7p per week cut in City Hall’s share of the council tax.
Other measures contained in the plan include recovering a greater share of the Brigade’s costs when it assists brigades in neighbouring counties, charging persistent false alarm offenders and increasing efforts to encourage building owners to put in place in-house lift rescue arrangements.
Earlier this month, Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat members of the London Fire Emergency and Planning Authority (LFEPA) voted to approve a consultation on all aspects of the plan other than the proposed closures.
Following the vote the Mayor issued a Mayoral Directive ordering LFEPA to proceed with the original, unamended consultation.
However the authority has refused to back down, with non-Conservative members of the Authority joining forces at a meeting last week to back a motion defying the Mayor’s instruction.
In response the Mayor has written to the Authority, threatening to seek a Judicial Review unless it complies with his wishes by Tuesday February 26th.
In addition to approving consultation on the original plan, City Hall is understood to want LFEPA members and their political parties to give undertakings not to proceed with any rival or parallel consultations or campaigns opposing the closures.
Navin Shah, Labour’s London Assembly Fire Spokesperson and LFEPA member, has called on the Mayor to personally lead “a full and wide-ranging consultation with Londoners” setting out the two options.
Mr Shah said: “Rather than cutting council tax by just one penny a day per household, he can freeze it and use the money to protect frontline emergency services. It’s up to him whether they are axed or not.”
LFEPA will meet next week to consider the Mayor’s letter.