999 Services under attack in London

Emergency services are being devastated acrossLondonwith the closure of 17 fire stations, eight Accident and Emergency Units and countless police stations and front-counters. When it comes toLondon’s blue light services, Boris has proved himself to be a do-nothing politician and a know-nothing mayor. We are facing utter confusion about cuts toLondon’s policing from his office, as well as which fire stations will be chopped.

I recently supported a motion that was passed at last month’s London Assembly meeting tabled by my colleagues. It called on Boris “to reconsider and abandon his own draconian cuts to the emergency services” to keep Londoners safe. AcrossLondon, blue-light services are being threatened and we must stand together to fight to save these services.

The London Fire Brigade is facing steep cuts due to the government cutting the fire budget by 25% – £65million in total. This is even deeper than the 20% cut to the police’s budget. It has been hailed as the biggest shake-up to the London Fire Brigade since it was created 146 years ago.  

The Labour Group has repeatedly asked for a list of stations at risk of closure. A leaked document recently showed 17 stations have been earmarked for closure, but potentially this number could be greater. Furthermore, Chair of the London Fire Authority, James Cleverly has only confirmed that 28 out ofLondon’s 112 fire stations are safe.

Despite Prime Minister David Cameron declaring the Conservatives are “the party of the NHS”, every healthcare budget inLondonhas been slashed. The London Ambulance Service will lose £53million (19%) of it’s budget by 2015/16, resulting in 890 job cuts, of which 560 jobs will be frontline staff.  

Accident and Emergency departments will be under intense pressure when eight ofLondon’s 32 A&E departments close over the next few years. The capital’s population is predicted to grow to 9million by 2020, meaning each A&E will cover 375,000 residents – an increase of 120,000 for each A&E.  

The Metropolitan Police has admitted to feeling the effects of having a quarter of its budget cut from central government. Met Headquarters at New Scotland Yard will be sold as well as 665 police stations which will replaced with “contact points”.  

It’s unlikely the Mayor will be able to keep his election promise to have 1,000 more police officers inLondonthan when he took office. However, it’s unsurprising as the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) stated that government cuts to the policing budget of more then 12% would hit front line services.  

We have already lost 1,444 police officers and 1,960 PCSOs inLondonsince May 2010, with the cuts now starting to bite even deeper we will undoubtedly lose even more. The Met has also lost over a 1,000 civilian staff meaning that police officers are having to cover back office roles rather than being on the beat.  

I am deeply concerned about our frontline services. This is the unacceptable and dangerous face of deep cuts. The Mayor of London has tried to duck and dive when questioned directly about cuts to the NHS but 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 and will inevitably endanger the lives’ of Londoners.

This blog has been published as an article in Tribune, in its present edition.

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