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Boris orders fire authority to press on with Southwark Fire Station closure consultation

The Mayor of London has issued a direction to overrule the decision of the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority to strike out plans to close Southwark Fire Station in Southwark Bridge Road and 11 others around London.

Southwark Fire Station
Southwark Fire Station and the adjacent Southwark training centre are likely to be sold off to developers

Last week firefighters staged a noisy protest outside the fire brigade headquarters in Union Street as members of the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) met to consider the future of fire cover in the capital.

Although the mayor appoints the chair of the fire authority, it is composed of London Assembly members and borough councillors from all the main parties. The Conservatives do not currently command a majority at authority meetings.

On Wednesday the Mayor confirmed he had used his power of direction over the authority to force it to carry out public consultation on the fire station closure plans.

"There have been some outrageous claims that the fire commissioner and I would put lives of Londoners at risk, so I have directed the plans to go for consultation as planned because the option presented by the authority is unfit for purpose and unsustainable in budget terms," said Boris Johnson.

"It is essential that the London Fire Brigade continues to modernise so that it can remain one of the world's leading rescue services and is equipped to respond to 21st century fire fighting needs.

"It's right that tough decisions have to be made in times of economic uncertainty. History shows the difficulties organisations face when they don't meet their financial responsibilities.

"With 100 fire stations and over 150 fire engines, I am completely resolute that any agreed proposals will still be able to deal with large scale or multiple emergencies."

The Mayor's decision was immediately slammed by his political opponents.

Lib Dem fire authority member Stephen Knight AM said: "This is a sad day for democracy and an even sadder day for the safety of Londoners.

"However much the Mayor attempts to spin this issue the reality is that he alone is forcing through the closure of 12 London fire stations and increasing response times for far too many Londoners."

On Wednesday morning Southwark & Lambeth's Labour London Assembly member Val Shawcross challenged Boris Johnson on his plans to close police stations and front counters at Mayor's Question Time.

She said: "We heard today that when it comes to London's blue light services, Boris is a do-nothing politician and a know-nothing Mayor. We are seeing utter confusion about cuts to London's policing and fire brigade from his office.

"I am concerned about cuts to the frontline services in Lambeth and Southwark. The government and the Mayor are cutting too far, too fast and these cuts will inevitably endanger families and communities across the capital.

"The Mayor can't give a straight answer about how much a closed police station will save or where residents will be able to report crime.

"Many residents have spoken to me and they just don't believe Boris when he says that he can close 65 police stations, 12 fire stations, axe 520 firefighter posts and cut 18 fire engines and still maintain the same service we have now.

"He has direct responsibility for the fire and police services so has to take responsibility for the closure of fire and police stations and the loss of police officers on his watch. The cuts are going too far and too fast."

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