The capital’s fire authority has voted to implement controversial plans to axe 10 fire stations and 14 fire engines.
London Safety Plan 5 also 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.
The Plan was drawn up by Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson in the wake of cuts to both City Hall and central Government funding for the London Fire Brigade.
A majority of authority members opposed the cuts 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.
Authority members hired lawyers to explore whether grounds existed to challenge the Mayor’s direction in the courts.
However authority lawyers advised no such grounds existed, and a second lawyer warned that continuing to defy the Mayor and, should he obtain a court order ordering members to obey his direction, opened members to legal sanctions and contempt of court proceedings.
At Wednesday’s Mayor’s Question Time Mr Johnson refused a requests to rescind his instruction and allow the fire authority to explore other ways of balancing the Brigade’s budget.
The Mayor said members had already had a year to bring forward a costed, viable alternative and had failed to do so and that it would be “very poor public administration” to further delay decisions needed to balance the authority’s accounts.
At Thursday’s fire authority meeting, opponents to the cuts voted tactically to create a hung vote of 8 for and 8 against, forcing Chair James Cleverly to use his casting vote to implement the Plan.
Speaking after the vote, Labour’s London Assembly Fire spokesperson, Fiona Twycross AM, said: “We are all deeply disappointed that Boris’ cuts have now been forced through, we wanted to continue the fight in court.
“However, the legal advice we received was categorical and clearly stated we had no legal basis to challenge the Mayor in this way. If we had gone down this route then we would have spent a large amount of taxpayers’ money fighting a futile battle.”
LibDem Stephen Knight added: “After repeatedly ignoring the views of the London Assembly, the London Fire Authority and most importantly Londoners the Mayor has finally managed to bulldoze through his foolish plans to close one in ten of London’s fire stations.
“The responsibility for 10 of London’s fire stations being closed by January rests entirely with the Mayor.”
Darren Johnson, a Green Party member of the London Assembly and fire authority, said: “I deeply regret that the Mayor has forced the Fire Authority to make these damaging cuts to fire cover in London , to which they were strongly opposed on safety grounds. The Mayor has failed to listen to Londoners and failed to listen to his own fire authority.”