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Saving Southwark Fire Station: fight goes on says council leader

The leader of Southwark Council says it's "incredibly disappointing" that the Mayor of London intends to press ahead with the closure of Southwark Fire Station.

Saving Southwark Fire Station: fight goes on says council leader

Updated plans for cuts to fire cover in London were published on Wednesday afternoon, a week in advance of the next meeting of the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority.

Under fire commissioner Ron Dobson's revised proposals Clapham and New Cross fire stations have been reprieved but Southwark remains on the closure list.

"I would like to thank all of those who contributed to the consultation process," said Ron Dobson.

"I listened very hard to the views of everyone attending public meetings and where possible, my revised plan takes into account some of the concerns raised.

"We have to acknowledge that the number of fires we attend has gone down by half in the last ten years, and our latest figures show that fires continued to fall at the same rate last year.

"Under my revised proposals response times in London will remain amongst the very best of any emergency service in the UK and firefighters will continue to carry out community safety work to prevent fires at the same level as they do now.

"Fire stations and fire engines do not stop fires happening – proactive prevention work does."

Firefighters on red watch at Southwark Fire Station learnt of the latest proposals whilst they tackled a blaze in Bermondsey.

"The campaign absolutely does not stop and we will continue to make the case for Southwark Fire Station," Southwark Council leader Peter John told the SE1 website.

He added: "We're pleased that New Cross fire station is staying open because that serves a big part of the borough but residents of SE1 are obviously going to be concerned about the loss of Southwark.

"We share that concern and we are going to continue to fight this."

Bermondsey & Old Southwark MP Simon Hughes said: "Southwark Fire Station is one of the busiest fire stations south of the river and one of the busiest single appliance stations in central London.

"I am therefore appalled at this loss of fire cover in the borough and the likely increase in the number of fires and their severity.

"We are paying the price of a wrong policy by the Mayor of London. Boris Johnson should not put a small reduction in the council tax precept ahead of Londoners' safety."

Southwark Lib Dem leader Cllr Anood Al-Samerai added: "It is irresponsible and short-sighted of the Mayor to push through these cuts to our fire services which are so vital to residents in Southwark.

"Losing Southwark Fire Station will be a big blow to the borough, particularly bearing in mind the awful fires we've suffered here in recent years. Boris Johnson has completely let down Southwark and failed to show he is on the side of residents.

"There is also a question about whether part of the reason Southwark Fire Station is being closed is because it is in a high value area so would bring in a lot of cash if sold off, which would be completely wrong."

Next Wednesday firefighters will gather at the Monument and march across the river to the fire brigade's Union Street headquarters in protest against the plans.

Paul Embery from the Fire Brigades' Union said: "Make no mistake, the decision to keep Clapham and New Cross stations open came about only because of the pressure of a sustained public campaign in which the FBU played a pivotal role. But that campaign doesn't end here. Ten stations remain under threat, and we must redouble our efforts to save these stations from the axe too.

"These cuts are dangerous and wrong and will lead to millions of Londoners waiting longer for a fire engine in an emergency.

"We've seen today what can be achieved by campaigning against fire station closures. We now need to keep the pressure up to force brigade managers and Boris Johnson to think again about the remaining ten stations.

"The FBU will not rest until the threat of all frontline fire service cuts is off the table."


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