London councils who lost a High Court challenge against Boris Johnson’s decision to order the closure of fire stations are to pay City Hall £85,000 towards its legal fees.
In order to meet cuts in the London Fire Brigade’s government and City Hall funding, fire commissioner Ron Dobson drew up a new London Safety Plan which included closing fire stations and axing fire engines.
A majority of the capital’s fire authority refused to implement the commissioner’s plan, potentially leaving the body unable to pass a balanced budget.
The Mayor eventually used his power to direct the authority and ordered members to vote for the plan.
When lawyers advised members that they had to abide by the Mayor’s decision a number of local councils sought a judicial review of the cuts which they argued “would have an impact on public safety”.
However the court rejected the appeal, noting that it was not for judges to decide where politicians should allocated limited funding.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Foskett said: “At the end of the day, someone or some body has to make a judgment about how best to allocate limited resources”.
He added that the courts could “only direct a reconsideration of such a judgment if it can be shown that the process leading to it was unlawful and/or irrational” and that, in following the professional advice of the fire commissioner, the Mayor had acted correctly.
City Hall’s costs for defending the challenge exceeded £100,000 but officials have agreed to accept an offer of £85,000 from the councils in order to avoid incurring further costs.
A number of the boroughs behind the fire challenge also brought and lost an appeal against the Mayor’s changes to his planning framework, costing local council tax payers a further £55,000 toward’s City Hall legal fees.