Boris Johnson has refused to back down over plans to axe 10 fire stations and 14 fire engines despite calls to allow the capital’s fire authority more time to explore alternative money saving options.
The closures form part of a new London Safety Plan drawn up in the wake of cuts to both City Hall and central Government grants to the London Fire Brigade.
As well as the closures, the Plan includes proposals to reclaim money from building owners responsible for false alarms and from neighbouring areas where the Brigade attends instead of a local fire crew.
Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green members of the fire authority opposed the plans and refused to back a public consultation on them until ordered by the Mayor to do so.
The Plan was later revised, reducing the number of stations and engines being cut, but authority members still refused to endorse it, prompting the Mayor to use his power of direction and order that they approve the Plan by September 16th.
At Wednesday’ Mayor’s Question Time, Labour Assembly Member and fire authority member Navin Shah asked the Mayor to rescind his instruction and allow the fire authority to explore other ways of balancing the Brigade’s budget.
However the Mayor said members had already had a year to bring forward a costed, viable alternative and had failed to do so.
He said “it would be very poor public administration” to divert from the process and allow authority members to revisit an issue on which they’d already failed to show leadership.
During the meeting the Mayor was repeatedly heckled from the public gallery by firefighters who accused him of endangering the public by proceeding with the cuts and of telling “lies” when claiming deaths by fire had fallen during his term of office.
A threatened Judicial Review of the Mayor’s decision looks unlikely after two separate lawyers advised opponents that there were no legal grounds on which to base a challenge.