Fewer than one in five of the public support plans to cut 13 London fire engines according to the results of an official London Fire Brigade public consultation. Despite the lack of public support for the plans, the London Fire Brigade, is pushing ahead with plans to axe the 13 fire engines after Mayor Boris Johnson ordered them to make £11.5m in cuts in 2016/17. The consultation results come only two weeks after the Mayor was criticised for describing the lifesaving fire engines as “pointless vehicles.”
The consultation results published today showed that 70% of the 1,478 respondents supported fully funded alternative proposals (Option A) put forward by Andrew Dismore AM, which would retain the 13 fire engines and make the required savings by changing the way some engines are crewed, allowing one crew to run different types of fire appliance to ensure all of the Fire Brigade’s current engines are able to stay in service. Only 18% of respondents supported Option B which would see the 13 fire engines scrapped.
The results of the consultation will be considered at next Wednesday’s meeting (17th Feb) of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), although it is feared that irrespective of the outcome, the Mayor of London could issue a legally binding Mayoral Direction to LFEPA members ordering them to axe the fire engines.
In January 2012 the Mayor’s last round of cuts to the Fire Brigade saw him order the closure of 10 fire stations with the loss of 14 fire engines. Following the closures London saw a significant increase in response times with rises in 401 of London’s 654 wards when compared with the previous year.
Labour’s London Assembly Fire Spokesperson, Dr Fiona Twycross AM said:
“It’s no surprise that Londoners don’t want to see more fire engines axed given that the last time Boris Johnson cut the fire service, closing ten fire stations and scrapping 14 fire engines, the result was a significant increase in the time it takes engines to reach fires.
“With 70% of Londoners against these plans, and with strong and fully costed alternatives on the table, it is time the Mayor listened to what Londoners are telling him and backed down from this plan to axe yet more fire engines.
“Far from being the ‘pointless vehicles’ the Mayor describes, these fire engines and their crews save lives. Scrapping them would unnecessarily increase the risk to Londoners.”
- The results of the LFB consultation into the proposed cuts to the Fire Brigade area available here. (begins page 11 halfway down) and reads:
69. The consultation questionnaire asked respondents which option they preferred (‘Option A’ or ‘Option B’) and the reasons for their preference. In addition, respondents also had the opportunity to select a ‘Neither’ option.
70. A sizable majority of respondents chose Option A as their preferred option (70 per cent). Option B was chosen by 18 per cent of respondents, and ‘Neither’ was selected by 11 per cent. One per cent of respondents offered no selection.
71. This response was broadly reflected across respondent types. The only exception to this was from those respondents who identified themselves as ‘Elected Members’. In this case, Option B was the preferred option (54 per cent). The numbers of ‘Elected Members’ responding however was much smaller (34) compared to 328 staff, and 1,078 responses from the public.
- The results of the LFB consultation will be debated by LFEPA members on Wednesday 17th at 10am at City Hall.
- Speaking at a London Assembly meeting on the 20th January the Mayor Boris Johnson responded to a question from Andrew Dismore AM on whether he would protect the 13 fire engines currently at risk of being scrapped saying; “it’s certainly Labour’s policy to have pointless vehicles of all kinds and I understand why you bow to that but I’m content to wait and see the outcome of the consultation.” A copy of the meeting transcript is available here (p.45).