Newham

Newham politicians oppose London Fire Brigade cuts

29 January 2016 in Community safety and Council and democracy
Today (Friday 29 January) Newham’s leading politicians have published a joint open letter criticising the planned downgrading of fire services in the borough.
Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham and Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham, say the proposed cuts to the borough’s fire services will put residents’ lives at risk. They call  on the Brigade’s Commissioner to scrap his current savings plans and go back to the drawing board.

The London Fire and Planning Authority has put forward two options for cutting its services in Newham as part of its plans to save £6.4m across London.

One would see a change of crew patterns, leaving them unable to cover vital community safety work. The other would see two engines permanently removed from Plaistow and Stratford fire stations.

The letter says the safety of residents has already been put at risk by the closure of  Silvertown fire station in 2014 and the lack of cover due to the loss of engines in neighbouring boroughs Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

It says: “Newham, out of all the London boroughs, has been worst affected with the biggest increases in response times following the 2014 fire brigade cuts imposed by the Mayor of London. Response times have gone up by more than 50 per cent in parts of the borough and the six minute response time target for the first engine is missed in half of our wards. This means people are waiting for longer to be rescued from a burning building or cut out of a major car crash, situations where not just every minute, every extra second, counts.”

The letter also highlights how the borough is growing. Since 2010 there are an additional 32,000 people living in the borough and an estimated extra 81,000 people will have moved to Newham by  2025. And with major venues such at the former Olympic Stadium and the Excel conference centre in the borough it is vital that no further services are removed.

The politicians concluded: “While we all need to cut our coats according to our cloth, Newham’s residents have already borne the brunt of the London Fire Brigade’s savings made in 2014 and government cuts since 2010 – quite simply another solution needs to be found.”

The brigade’s budget consultation closes on Monday 1 February at 5pm. To participate visit www.london-fire.gov.uk/consultation