London

Boris Johnson stands by London fire station closure plans

Mayor of London Boris Johnson
Image caption Boris Johnson answered questions on the planned cuts during Mayor's Question Time

Proposed cuts to London's fire service will go ahead, as long as they do not compromise safety, the mayor has said.

Boris Johnson made the assertion during Mayor's Question Time at which dozens of firefighters objected to the plans.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) wants to close 12 stations, cut 18 fire engines and 520 jobs to save £29m in two years.

During the meeting Mr Johnson said he was listening to the public's concerns but the physical presence of stations was not his main consideration.

'Reckless and wrong'

Mr Johnson told the audience that as long as fire deaths continued to fall in the capital the planned cuts would go ahead.

More than 20 public meetings have so far been held over the proposals, which the LFB said would not affect response times but which the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) described as "reckless and wrong".

During the meeting, Jeanette Arnold, Labour Assembly member, claimed fire response times would improve close to Mr Johnson's home, but worsen in poorer parts of Islington.

She said: "Why are you a winner but the rest of my constituents losers?"

The mayor replied it was "disgraceful" and "below the belt" to suggest he was biased.

'Cost lives'

The FBU, which protested outside City Hall before the meeting, said the changes would "jeopardise public safety".

Ian Leahair, from the union, said: "They [the cuts] would lead to an increase in response times for millions of Londoners...and would inevitably cost lives.

"The mayor should abandon his plans immediately, and let London's firefighters get on with the business of providing the world-class fire service that the capital deserves."

The meeting was adjourned after firefighters disrupted the proceedings by chanting "no ifs, not buts, no fire service cuts."

A three-month public consultation into the plans ended on Monday and will be reported on at a future meeting.

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