Jun 21 2012 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
CLOSING fire stations have not been ruled out by the budget-squeezed London Fire Brigade.
Paul Embery, regional secretary of the Fire Brigade Union, said the brigade is tasked with making £65million in savings over two years which will lead to front-line cuts.
The boss of the brigade said ‘no decisions have been taken’ but the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has offered no assurances that stations won’t close.
Mr Embery said: “It may be pure speculation at the moment as to regards which stations will be affected. We haven’t seen any definite list. It could be a combination of the quieter outlying stations which they could more easily do without and the more costlier stations to maintain in central London.”
Mr Embery said that cuts may also be made by the brigade not replacing firefighters who leave or retire.
London Assembly member for Harrow and Brent, Navin Shah, (Labour) challenged the Conservative London mayor to rule out shutting branches at a Mayor’s Question Time session on Wednesday last week.
Mr Shah said: “I clearly sought a guarantee from the mayor that he won’t be closing fire stations but he failed to provide that guarantee, which is extremely worrying.
“In his first term, Boris made a commitment to maintain front line services but his election manifesto was silent on this issue. Given the financial pressures on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, there seems to be a clear agenda to close fire stations and reduce fire appliances.”
Mr Shah said he was ‘extremely concerned’ about the prospect of losing Stanmore Fire Station and was seeking further information on this.
Ron Dobson, Commissioner of London Fire Brigade, said: “In the last four years, the London Fire Brigade has saved more than £40m without changing the core emergency response service we provide.
“Despite this, we still need to make substantial savings over the next couple of years. At the moment, there are no proposals, so clearly, no decisions have yet been taken. “