Plans to close 12 fire stations, take 18 fire engines out of service and lose 520 firefighters have been rejected at today’s Fire Authority meeting.
Labour, Lib Dem and Green members voted against the proposals; as there’s nine of them and eight Conservatives, the plans were defeated. Now the proposals end up on Boris Johnson’s desk and he has to decide whether to force it through.
The Mayor has so far done his level best to distance himself from what will be very unpopular cuts. As far back as September, Boris has been telling London Assembly members Andrew Dismore and Navin Shah that as they sit on the Fire Authority, the decision rests with them, and he’s consistently dodged discussing the proposals at Mayor’s Question Time. Now he’s been forced into a position where he could be solely responsible for making it happen.
Darren Johnson, one of the Green Assembly members, has suggested that the Mayor scrap his proposed council tax cut (which will save us around 7p per week per household) – according to Johnson, D’s calculations, the money saved would cover the costs of keeping the fire brigade at current strength. It’s worth noting at this point that crews from Clapham and Westminster, both slated for closure, were among the first on the scene at Wednesday’s helicopter crash. What will Boris do? We’ll find out soon.