The ‘West End Extra’ reports;
“The Mayor of London is set to push ahead with plans to close Westminster Fire Station, despite widespread opposition to the cuts.
Westminster Council had promised to fight the closure of the station in Greycoat Place – which is part of a £45million cost-cutting drive – and Conservative and Labour councillors unanimously voted to oppose the plans at a council meeting in May.
Last month, Conservative Assembly Member James Cleverly, who chairs the London Fire Authority, heard impassioned speeches from an unlikely alliance including all major political parties, black cab drivers, school leaders and representatives from Westminster Cathedral, who all opposed the cuts.
But their concerns were ignored and a new plan was released on Wednesday, showing that the cuts to both Westminster and Knightsbridge fire stations – which spends the majority of its time attending calls in Westminster – will go ahead.
Labour group leader Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg said the Mayor Boris Johnson had “betrayed tens of thousands of residents”, and Conservative cabinet member for community safety Cllr Nickie Aiken said she was “deeply disappointed” by the decision.
Councils and campaigners in New Cross and Clapham successfully put their case to the Mayor and these two stations have now been taken off the list of closures. Ten stations are slated for closure and a further 32 firefighters will be axed as the number of job losses increases to 552 across London.
The plan acknowledged that response times in Westminster would be the most severely affected of any London borough, with the average time it takes for the first fire engine to arrive increasing by 34 seconds.
London Fire Brigade commissioner Ron Dobson was forced to put the plans together by Mr Johnson and they will now be voted on by the 17 politicians that make up the London Fire Authority.
The majority are expected to vote against the plans next week, but Mr Johnson took the unprecedented step of overruling the Fire Authority when they voted against his plans earlier this year.
Cllr Aiken added: “This is at least a partial win for Westminster as the saved fire stations will relieve pressure in key parts of London. We also made the case for Chelsea Fire Station to retain two engines.
“However, we are still deeply disappointed that Westminster fire station itself remains on the hit-list. We hope our arguments about response times will still be heard before a final decision is taken.”
Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg said: “As we expected, the Mayor has refused to listen to the unanimous view of the community and is hell bent on closing the fire station in Greycoat Place, despite overwhelming opposition.
“The consultation has turned out to be a complete sham and the Mayor has betrayed tens of thousands of residents.
“He can laugh and joke as much as he wants but this will not alter the fact that the decision to close Greycoat Place Fire Station will put lives at risk as fire engines will take longer to get to fires.
“The tragedy of all this is that if the Mayor had not been guilty of playing crude party politics by forcing through a cut in the annual precept, he could have afforded to keep fire stations like Greycoat Place open.
“Residents should not be fooled by the Mayor’s buffoonery and his lust for further power; his decisions can mean the difference between life and death.”