To: Boris Johnson
Save our firestations
Stop the proposed closures of 10 fire stations, with the associated loss of 552 firefighter jobs,14 engines and 2 Fire Rescue Units.
Why is this important?
Boris Johnson wanted to cut £45 million over two years from the fire service. To save £28.8 million in 2014, on 9 January 2014 he decimated the London Fire Brigade, closing Belsize, Bow, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich Fire Stations. As part of this austerity drive, he also cut 552 firefighter positions, 14 fire engines and 2 FRUs.
Westminster for example has lost its 109 year old fire station - and now uses Lambeth’s instead, over the river. Is it fair that Lambeth taxpayers fund a service used by Westminster? And that world heritage sites, like Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Cathedral as well as tourists and taxpayers are left without emergency protection, with only two bridges into Westminster from Lambeth?
Five of the ten closed by the Mayor are Grade 2 listed buildings. And a 6th is just behind Harrods. Others, like Kingsland and Silvertown, are located in areas where property values are rising dramatically (due to to projects like Crossrail and the Mayor's Royal Albert Docks development). This is not about saving money, as the Mayor has found public money to fund vanity projects such as the 'not so public' Garden Bridge (£60 million in public money), the Emirates Air Line and the Barclays Bike Scheme. Closing and selling these fire stations is like selling the family silver to gain a one-off windfall. Southwark Fire Station alone was valued at £10 million in 2010.
Once they are sold into private ownership, taxpayers will never be able to get them back. We won’t be able to afford them.
And we can’t afford to lose them either. Boris Johnson stated that fire incidence is down (which is disputable). Firefighters do more than fight fires. Recent events like the gas explosion in Marylebone remind us of that. They educate us (and save lives as a result). They assess risks in our homes (for free).They are the ones who will cut you out of your car when you have a road traffic accident. They are our first response when terrorists attack as was the case in 7/7 in 2005. They rush in to the underground or train stations when smoke is pouring out. They have an arson investigation unit. They do voluntary work within the community. They train locally and have local knowledge, like learning where the disabled live or knowing their way around housing estates; all this local knowledge has been dispersed through the closures. Response times have increased and insurance premiums with them due to the reduced fire coverage.
All to save the price of a few cups of coffee. An annual increase of £5 on council tax would have prevented the closures.
Our communities will be poorer and more vulnerable if we lose these fire stations forever. Please do not let that happen. Please sign and share the petition. And let the Mayor know that what he is doing is dangerous...
How it will be delivered
Ideally in person