Mayor Boris Johnson and Fire Authority Chairman James Cleverly today insisted that any cuts in the number of fire stations and engines would not slow response times.
The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) has been ordered by the Mayor to deliver £65m in cuts over the next two years.
The Authority says officials, headed by Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson, are using modelling based on actual call-out rates to draw up a list of proposed closures and reductions which would then go before the full Authority for agreement.
Authority Members, some of whom are also London Assembly Members, have been given a list of possible closure sites.
Part of the list, which Mr Cleverly told Wednesday’s Mayor’s Question Time session was privileged, has been leaked to the media.
The stations listed are: Acton, Bow, Belsize, Clapham, Clerkenwell, Downham, Islington, Kensington, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, New Cross, Peckham, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster, Whitechapel and Woolwich.
Four further stations would lose one fire engine each while nine others would gain additional appliances.
Speaking at MQTs, the Mayor insisted he would not allow any slowing in the response times for the first and second appliances to attend a fire, and said the current average response of 6 minutes would be protected.
Liberal Democrat AM and LFEPA member Stephen Knight said the the proposed closures “flow directly from the budget cuts that Boris Johnson is forcing upon the London Fire Brigade.”
Mr Knight said the Mayor “should realise that fire cuts on this scale will be unacceptable to Londoners and provide the brigade with the budget it needs to do the job.”
Labour’s Navin Shah has previously said: “The Mayor and his Conservative government are cutting back our frontline services. They have cut the fire budget by 25%. All of these problems come back to the government cutting too far, too fast.”
Appearing before the full Assembly in September, Mr Cleverly promised to ensure any changes “do not damage [the Brigade’s] excellent track record in preventative work” and committed himself to ensuring “that our ability to deal with the fires that do happen is maintained, to make sure our average response times are still excellent.”
Despite having to impose cuts in the Fire and Policing budgets, the Mayor has committed himself to cutting City Hall’s share of the council tax “by at least 10% over the next four years”, a policy which reduces the amount he has to deliver key services.