Councillors in Willesden Green, myself included, have teamed up with the local Fire Brigades Union and local London Assembly member Navin Shah AM to start a petition against Tory plans to cut a fire engine in the ward. We were also joined by a very supportive Dawn Butler MP.
The Mayor of London is planning to remove 13 fire engines from service in the capital. In addition to being present at the petition launch London Assembly Member Navin Shah AM wrote to the Mayor after it emerged the proposals included removing a fire engine from Willesden fire station in Brent. We expect this to have a serious impact on staffing safety and response times.
The letter, which comes ahead of this week’s meeting of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), warns Boris Johnson that his proposed cuts risk having “dire consequences for Londoners” and asks the Mayor to consider alternative proposals which do not threaten frontline services.
At Wednesday’s LFEPA meeting, the Fire Commissioner will present proposals to permanently axe 13 engines, after Boris Johnson ordered the London Fire Brigade to make £13.2 million of further cuts. In 2014 the Mayor axed 14 fire engines and closed 10 stations, resulting in increases in response times across London. In his letter to the Mayor, Navin Shah AM warned that cutting more frontline services could further increase attendance times and lead to a “fire service in crisis.”
13 fire engines have already been temporarily withdrawn from service to provide strike cover, but it is unclear if the same 13 will be permanently axed if the Mayor’s cuts go ahead. The Fire Brigade drew up two lists of fire stations from which the 13 appliances could be taken, including Willesden fire station in Brent.
Navin Shah AM urged the Mayor to consider alternative proposals put forward by Labour Chair of the Fire Authority’s Resources Committee Andrew Dismore AM which focuses on back office savings and would prevent the removal of the 13 engines.
We are still waiting to hear the views of mayoral candidates on the matter, but we hope to gain their support to save the fire engine in Willesden.