Last night l had the privilege of speaking to an audience about saving Westminster fire station in SW1.
Firstly, I made clear that I was proud to stand alongside firemen & women outside City Hall on the 25th of February in protest against the Mayors of London’s cuts to the fire service. I was also proud to have been asked to deliver a petition of over 500 signatures of local residents in Pimlico against the closure of their fire station along Greycoat lane to the Mayor; and as a result l voted against the Mayor’s final budget proposal.
Boris’s budget proposal involves the closure of 12 fire stations including Westminster; 18 fire engines taken off the roads; and 520 front line fire officers losing their jobs. London’s fire chief has said the cuts are driven by financial considerations. The Mayor has reduced the council tax precept by just a penny a day (per household for a Band D property). I suspect most Londoners, including those who live in the City of Westminster would have preferred him to used that penny towards keeping London safe instead.
According to the London Fire Brigade (LFB), the potential impact of the closures in the City of Westminster will be an increase in the arrival of both the first and second fire engines to an incident in Westminster. The first fire engine will arrive, on average, 41 seconds later while the second fire engine will arrive 29 seconds later, on average. That may not sound a lot, but when you think that a fire quadruples in intensity every 2 minutes, then every second really does count.
Other borough fire station closures will also compound the effect of the proposals. Other stations earmarked for closure include Knightsbridge, Clerkenwell & Belsize stations. All three will impact on Westminster. For example 60 per cent of the mobilisation (that’s 359 incidents) out of Knightsbridge Fire Station in the last six months were to Westminster addresses. So each area is dependent on fire engines from neighbouring fire stations.
It is vital that as many Londoners as possible express their views on these cuts, especially if they believe, like me that they are wrong. You can have your say online, by post and by attending the public meeting for your area. The consultation on the fifth London Safety Plan was formally launched on the 4th of March. Further information is available on the LFB website – www.london-fire.gov.uk/lsp5.
There will be a further, formal public meeting in Westminster on Tuesday 15th of May 2013 between 7-9 pm, at the Regent Hall, Salvation Army, 275 Oxford Street, W1C 2DJ. Westminster residents should make their voices heard on that evening loud and clear.
So whilst the Mayor of London preoccupies himself with other matters, like becoming the PM one day? In the meantime, he neglects his responsibility of ensuring the maintenance of the capital’s emergency services in London. He does so at the peril of Londoner’s safety. So yes, while Boris fiddles, London potentially burns!