Former City Hall boss Anthony Mayer has been hired by Sadiq Khan to review recent cuts to the London Fire Brigade.
In recent years both former Mayor Boris Johnson and national government slashed funding to the London Fire Brigade, decisions which critics blame for the closure of 10 fire stations and the scrapping of 14 operational fire engines.
A further 13 engines, which had been placed in long-term storage to ensure private contractors could provide strike cover, were axed last year.
Each of the cuts was originally proposed by the capital’s fire commissioner, Ron Dobson, who works for the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and presented to authority members for approval.
When Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green members declined to endorse the cuts, Mr Johnson used his power to ‘direct’ them to do so, citing LFEPA’s legal obligation to pass a balanced budget.
Mr Dobson has always insisted that the Brigade has sufficient resources to deal with the current level of fires and repeatedly denied claims by some LFEPA members that he’d signed off on the cuts simply to please the former Mayor.
However today Mr Khan announced that Mayer, who served as City Hall’s Chief Executive under Ken Livingstone, London’s first directly elected Mayor, would review “the impact of cuts made to the service under Boris Johnson on the ability of the service to keep Londoners safe.”
Announcing the appointment, Mr Khan said: “Nothing is more important to me than keeping Londoners safe. That’s why I want to be reassured that our Fire Brigade has the resources they need to respond in the event of a fire or a major emergency.
“I am delighted that Anthony Mayer has agreed to undertake this review, and look forward to his findings so we can ensure every step is taken to keep London as safe and prepared as possible.”
City Hall has been asked to comment on why Mr Khan believes Mayer is better placed to determine the correct level of resources than Commissioner Dobson who is already due to start work shortly on a new London Safety Plan.
Update: Paul Embery, secretary of the FBU in London, said: “This is an opportunity to put right what went so badly wrong under the mayoralty of Boris Johnson.
“In the last three years, nearly 600 firefighter jobs have been lost and 10 fire stations have closed. Now the brigade cannot meet its own target response times across a third of neighbourhoods throughout the capital.
“The tragedies linked to slowing response times in the capital during the past year must be the focus of this review. We look forward to working with Anthony Mayer.”