Fire Brigade Cuts Latest
I wanted to email you all with the latest information we have received on cuts to the London Fire Brigade. Our local firefighters play a crucial role in saving lives everyday across North East London. As well as fighting fires our local brigades play an important role in their communities in offering fire prevention advice and working with partners such as schools and hospitals to check that effective plans are in place to deal with emergencies.
Last Wednesday Mayor Boris Johnson was challenged over cuts to London’s Fire Brigade and asked to look again at these reckless cuts. I understand that up to 30 fire stations are at risk due to the scale of these cuts demanded by Boris Johnson.
As Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is ultimately responsible that effective fire cover is provided for the capital. The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) budget is a component part of Mayor Boris Johnson’s overall budget which will be examined by the Assembly in early 2013.
I am furious at the planned cuts to fire cover in my constituency. I understand the plans include closing Kingsland Fire Station in Hackney, along with two stations in Islington at Upper Street and Clerkenwell. Appliances will also be lost at Chingford and Leyton in Waltham Forest.
I am particularly angry at the slap dash way in which these cuts are being proposed, with no account taken of local circumstances. My constituency includes some of the most populous areas in London where emergency service demand is high. It also includes areas set to undergo rapid regeneration such as in Hackney Wick which will need more fire resources, not less, as this new community grows. In the North-East of the constituency Epping Forest is one of the largest wooded areas in the Greater London area. With an increased likelihood of dry summers as climate change takes hold the danger posed by serious forest fires only becomes greater.
Whilst savings have to be made, these should not be at the expense of frontline fire cover. The cuts are too far and too fast. The final £65million target of cuts set by Mayor Boris Johnson can only be met if fire stations close. The scale of cuts is unacceptable and will impact on public safety. I will work with local residents to fight these reckless plans.
At the last Mayor’s Question Time members of the Labour Group also challenged Mayor Boris Johnson on cuts to the Police and A&E Departments. The Metropolitan Police have already lost 1,444 Police Constables and 1,960 PCSOs in the past two years. With a £230m budget black hole this will increase. We will find out later this year about proposals to reduce the number of police stations across London possibly leaving just one 24hr station per borough.
If this was not enough the NHS in London is also under attack. The capital is set to lose 7 of its 31 A&E departments, leaving the remaining 24 to cover an extra 120,000 residents each. I am furious at how the NHS is being dismantled before our eyes. This comes at a time when a recent review by the King’s Fund pointed towards growing concerns about trolley waits in A&E departments. This is clearly linked to the loss of 4,000 nurses since the coalition government took office.
Whether it is cuts to the Fire Brigade, Police or Accident and Emergency Departments the Mayor is not being honest with Londoners about the scale of the cuts and his role in implementing them. It is impossible to make these swinging cuts and it not to have an impact on the safety of my constituents. In the months to come I will be scrutinising the Mayor closely on the police cuts as a member of the Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee. On A&E cuts I will be working closely with my Labour Group colleague Dr Onkar Sakota, a practising GP, to see that these damaging plans are stopped. On the fire cuts I have written to Mayor Boris Johnson asking for a meeting to discuss these reckless cuts. I have also met with fire chiefs and will continue to do so until these plans are dropped. No matter how long it takes I will fight these plans tooth and nail, because the safety of people across North East London is in jeopardy.