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Westminster fire station still at risk after fire authority meeting
Westminster fire station remains at risk this week after the Mayor of London plans to use his powers to block the Fire Authority's rejection of the proposals to close 12 stations across the capital.
The London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) voted against a consultation to close 12 fire stations, take away 18 fire engines and make 400 fire fighters and 100 civilian staff redundant.
Westminster fire station in Greycoat Place, Victoria, could be closed along with Knightsbridge station in neighbouring Kensington and Chelsea.
This will be Boris Johnson's first ever directive to override the members of the fire authority to ensure the consultation goes ahead.
Mr Johnson said: "LFEPA has a responsibility to deliver a balanced budget based on sensible plans for fire safety provision in the capital. I am of course always willing to listen to submissions but it's quite clear today's decision offers nothing positive, indeed it demonstrates a complete lack of leadership.
"This must and will be about improving London's fire service, equipping the brigade for the challenges of 21st century firefighting, and maintaining our exceptional response times across both inner and outer London. We secured a better than expected financial settlement for LFEPA - the best of any similar authority in England - and history shows the difficulties organisations get into when they don't face up to their financial responsibilities. This consultation will continue as planned. I will be issuing a Mayoral directive to ensure it does."
An amendment was made by Labour members, which was supported by Liberal Democrat and Green members of the fire authority. The amendment means the authority has not agreed to consultation on the part of the plan that deals with the closure of fire stations, or loss of appliances or firefighters.
Over the coming days, the London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson will be discussing with officers what this means in terms of setting the Authority's budget and finding the savings of £45m that are still needed over the next two years.
London Fire Brigades Union highlighted the importance of preserving Westminster fire station, which was one of the first teams on the scene of the helicopter crash in Vauxhall last week.
The union said on Twitter: "Fire crews from Clapham and Westminster stations among first at helicopter crash scene. Boris Johnson wants to close both stations."
And added: "We have seen today the sheer unpredictability and scope of emergencies dealt with by London's firefighters. As ever, they delivered."
Union members have created a Twitter account to protest against the closure, @SaveWestminster. It is urging to people to sign a petition set up by Westminster council: http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/firestation.
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