Assembly want to bring back 13 fire engines

01 July 2015

The London Assembly today voted for a motion criticising the Mayor’s decision to prevent 13 fire engines returning to the streets. The engines are currently held to support contingency arrangements during industrial action, and the London Fire Brigade and the Fire Brigade Union had been close to agreeing that they would be returned. However, this option was rejected by the Mayor. Fiona Twycross AM, who proposed the motion, said: “The Assembly has been very clear in its opposition to the Mayor’s attempt to stop these 13 fire appliances returning to London’s streets. Last year, Boris Johnson forced through the closure of 10 London fire stations, 14 fire engines and over 500 firefighters. Now we learn he is planning another round of cuts which will undoubtedly leave our fire service worse off. No money is saved by not putting these fire engines back into service in advance of the budget being set - but it could cost lives. With many Londoners concerned about whether his actions will push up fire engine response times long term it’s time for the Mayor to stop playing with fire and return these fire engines to use immediately.” Stephen Knight AM, who seconded the motion, said: “Only two years ago, the Mayor forced through the last set of fire service cuts in 2013 to pay for a trivial cut in his council tax precept. Now he looks set to do it all over again by ordering the fire authority to cut a further 13 engines from its fleet. If he succeeds, his legacy will be a weaker fire service and a less safe city where engine response times further deteriorate.” The full motion text reads: “This Assembly notes Mayoral Direction 1516 – LFEPA 2016-17 Budget Options – instructing the Authority to ‘not redeploy’ thirteen fire engines, which are used to support the contingency arrangements during periods of industrial action. This Assembly is deeply concerned that, despite repeated calls at LFEPA for the thirteen appliances to be returned, the Mayor has proceeded with this combative course of action; especially at the point at which LFB and the FBU were close to reaching an agreement on the terms of their return. Furthermore, this Assembly regrets that the Mayor appears intent on the permanent removal of the 13 appliances, despite the fact that alternative budget options have not yet been formally considered by LFEPA, and while considerable work is being undertaken by officers and board members on finding alternatives to additional frontline cuts to meet the Mayor’s £11m reduction in the 2016/17 fire service budget. This Assembly regards the Mayor’s Direction as unnecessary, and believes that it demonstrates that the Mayor is not committed to protecting frontline emergency services in the capital. Furthermore, the Assembly believes that the premise upon which the decision appears to have been made is not sufficiently strong to demonstrate that the safety of Londoners will not be jeopardised by his Decision; especially were that Decision the first step towards permanent removal of the thirteen appliances. This Assembly calls on the Mayor to withdraw MD 1516 and to allow the re-introduction of the 13 appliances to London’s streets immediately, returning fire cover to the levels committed to within the fifth London Safety Plan (LSP5).”

 

Notes to editors:

The motion was agreed with 12 votes for and 4 against.

The full webcast is available here.

Fiona Twycross AM is available for interview. See contact details below.

As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Ash Singleton in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 5769. For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.