London Mayor Boris Johnson has overruled the city’s Fire Authority to force through potentially devastating cuts to the capital’s fire service.
10 stations, 14 engines, and 552 jobs will go as part of a cuts plan aimed at saving nearly £30 million. Johnson is making the cuts unilaterally, despite the Authority having voted against them.
94% of respondents to the public consultation around the cuts opposed them, with hundreds attending local meetings and demonstrations. Around 1,000 firefighters and supporters marched on 18 July to demand the cuts plan be shelved.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has called the cuts “an affront to democracy”.
Ian Lehair, FBU Executive member for London, said: “The cuts are dangerous and wrong, and this is devastating news for Londoners, with lives across the capital being put at risk by the mayor’s reckless cuts.
“[Boris] Johnson has simply ignored the evidence, and his cuts will mean slower response times for four million Londoners.”
The FBU is also gearing up for national strikes on attacks to firefighters’ pension provision. A strike ballot began on 18 July, and runs until 29 August.
Several local Fire Authorities have caused controversy by announcing schemes to train volunteers to provide fire cover in event of a strike. Qualified firefighters have 12 weeks’ training, but strike breaking volunteers may get less than three weeks before being sent out to tackle blazes.
FBU officials have slammed the plan as “absolutely crazy”.