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New data shows how response times will rise if Southwark Fire Station shuts

Residents and businesses in Cathedrals ward face an average extra wait of one minute 38 seconds for a fire engine to arrive if plans to shut Southwark Fire Station get the go-ahead.

New data shows how response times will rise if Southwark Fire Station shuts
The fire engine from Southwark Fire Station answered a call to the Travelodge in Union Street on Saturday afternoon

The London Fire Brigade has released new ward-by-ward data showing the expected impact on response times of the removal of 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters across the capital.

The figures show that Cathedrals ward will see the average response time for the first fire engine to arrive at an incident rise from three minutes 58 seconds to five minutes 36 seconds.

Despite the sharp increase in response time, the figure remains within the fire brigade's own six-minute target for the arrival of the first fire appliance.

Earlier this month Southwark Council leader Peter John and London Assembly member Val Shawcross called a public meeting to discuss the proposed cuts.

The meeting heard from a resident of the Peabody Estate on Southwark Street who praised the swift response of the fire brigade to the recent blaze in one of their blocks.

Ms Shawcross described the proposed cuts as "unnecessary and too extensive", while Cllr John warned of the potential loss of local knowledge among firefighters.

The council leader also revealed that the owners of the Shard had raised concerns about the plan to close the nearest fire station to Western Europe's tallest building.

That meeting led to a Twitter spat between Cllr John and James Cleverly AM, the Conservative chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, who accused Southwark's Labour leader of organising the public meeting in order "to grandstand and show off".

At the meeting Rita Dexter, deputy commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, insisted that there is a a "strong rational case" for the proposed cuts.

Cllr Richard Livingstone, whose Southwark cabinet portfolio includes community safety, branded the proposed cuts as "absolutely irresponsible and reprehensible". He argued that the plan fails to take into account the number of high-rise buildings in North Southwark and the different level of response needed for a central London incident in a large building compared to a semi-detached suburban house.

More than 70 people attended a public meeting held at the Queensborough Community Centre last week which was organised by the Lant and Bittern Tenants' and Residents' Association.

The audience at a recent meeting of Bermondsey & Rotherhithe Community Council also unanimously opposed the closure of Southwark Fire Station, with chair Cllr Nick Stanton promising to write to Mayor of London Boris Johnson in Latin to inform him of the views of local residents.

The official London Safety Plan consultation meeting for Southwark residents will be held at City Hall on Tuesday 14 May at 7pm.

"The meetings have been arranged for local people to come along and hear about the changes being proposed to the fire service across London, as part of the Draft Fifth London Safety Plan," said Andy Snazell, the London Fire Brigade's borough commander for Southwark.

The consultation period on the draft plan runs until Monday 17 June; details at

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