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Council fights "reckless" fire service cuts in new coalition
Waltham Forest Council has joined forces with a group of London boroughs to fight the fire service cuts across the city.
The coalition of 8 boroughs, including Camden, Greenwich, Hackney, Islington, Lewisham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets, have signed a letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, asking him to overrule the Mayor of London’s decision to close ten fire stations and cut 552 jobs and 14 fire engines.
Under the plans Waltham Forest will see the number of fire engines reduced from eight to five, increasing the time it will take for a second fire engine to arrive at the scene of a blaze by nearly a minute.
Cllr Chris Robbins, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “We’ve got a duty to protect Waltham Forest’s residents from these reckless plans that put lives at risk.
“The fact that we are losing the very engines that were given to us just a short while ago due to serious safety concerns beggars belief.
"We are working with like-minded council’s across London to challenge this decision.”
If the appeal to the Secretary of State is unsuccessful, the eight councils are also preparing to seek a judicial review of the Mayor's decision.
In an unapologetic statement, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Ensuring that London’s Fire Service is financially stable and keeping Londoners safe are top priorities.
“I am perplexed as to why the Fire Authority has felt it necessary to lead the Service into an increasingly precarious position by not facing up to its fiscal responsibilities and by rejecting the sound professional judgement of the Fire Commissioner, a fire-fighter with over 20 years of experience.
“The London Safety Plan as proposed by the Commissioner on 18th July ensures that there is a balanced Fire Authority budget for 2014-15 and so that compulsory redundancies can be avoided.
"We need to move forward to face the challenges of 21st century fire-fighting."
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