A public consultation has been launched on controversial plans to reform the capital’s Fire Brigade, including axing 12 fire stations and 18 engines.
The closures form part of the Brigade’s efforts to meet £45m in budget cuts imposed by Central Government and City Hall and have been opposed by the Fire Brigades Union, local councils and members of the London Assembly and fire authority.
Fire commissioner Ron Dobson has said the changes will not adversely impact on Londoners’ safety.
Other proposals 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.
Last month fire authority members backed down in a row with London Mayor Boris Johnson over the planned closures.
Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat members on the London Fire Emergency and Planning Authority (LFEPA) voted to block consultation on the closures.
The groups wanted the Mayor to scrap plans to cut City Hall’s share of the council tax by 7p per week, a move they claimed would provide enough additional funding to protect the stations and engines.
After LFEPA ignored a Mayoral Directive ordering it to proceed with the consultation, Mayor Johnson threatened the authority with a Judicial Review of its decision.
Last week the parties backed down after they failed in their efforts to use a London Assembly vote to amend the Mayor’s budget and scrap the planned council tax cut.
Their decision means LFEPA is now proceeding with the consultation which begins today, Monday 4th March 2013, and continues for 12 weeks.
Members of the public can have their say on the plans by visiting www.london-fire.gov.uk/lsp5, calling 0800 9888 569 or by writing to the London Fire Brigade at 169 Union Street, London, SE1 0LL.
LFEPA will also be holding a series of public meetings in London Boroughs, details of which will published at a later date.
Responses to the consultation must be in by 5pm on Tuesday 28th May 2013.
Announcing the start of the consultation, Commissioner Dobson said: “Compared to ten years ago, the Brigade attends half as many fires, a third fewer house fires and almost a third fewer incidents overall.
“But there is always more to be done. In the future, the resources available to the Brigade will reduce and the number of people who can work for the Brigade and provide our services will also reduce. We have passed the point where we can make the necessary level of savings without any impact on our fire stations.
“In this draft plan, I set out how I propose to make those savings, while continuing to provide an excellent emergency response service and also protecting the delivery of community safety and fire safety services.
“I remain committed to my long term vision for London Fire Brigade to remain a world class fire and rescue service for London, Londoners and visitors. This draft plan sets out in more detail how I plan to continue to achieve that over the next three years.”