Publc's Views Sought On Fire Cuts

A public consultation is to be held on controversial plans to close 12 fire stations in London and cut over 500 firefighters' jobs to make millions of pounds worth of savings.

The capital's fire authority has been refusing to agree to the cuts, raising the threat of legal action by the Mayor Boris Johnson.

But the authority's urgency committee today gave the go-ahead for a consultation to be held.

The Mayor said:

"I'm glad that the fire authority has finally accepted the need to give Londoners the chance to consult on the Fire and Safety Plan, something I've been urging them to do for weeks.

"Their tactics proved pointless and an unnecessary waste of time. The authority must now give the Fire Commissioner, a man of 30 years' service, the freedom to run a timely consultation, free from political interference and obfuscation."

Labour's London Assembly fire spokesman, Navin Shah, said:

"There is now time to consult with people across our city and hear what they think about Boris Johnson's plans to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters. His plans are reckless and will jeopardise the long-term safety and security of Londoners.

"Boris has been forced to take stock and delay his cuts which are too far and too fast. We will now hear what ordinary Londoners think about his plans and this will guide us in our battle to save our much needed frontline fire services."

Terry Stacy, a Liberal Democrat member of the authority, said:

"Londoners should not be lumbered with massive legal bills so the consultation on fire station cuts and closures will go ahead.

"Liberal Democrats call on local people to make sure their voices are heard in this process. It is now up to Londoners - they must tell Boris how strongly they want to see his cuts and closures scrapped and 520 fire-fighters' jobs retained."

Paul Embery of the Fire Brigades Union, said:

"The starting gun has been fired, and we want Londoners to join with us in defending their fire service. These cuts are reckless and wrong. They would mean nearly five million Londoners across 20 boroughs waiting longer for a fire engine, and that will place people in serious danger.

"These cuts represent the biggest threat to the ability of the London Fire Brigade to function since the days of the Blitz. It is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to fight them."