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£100k to be spent protecting empty Clerkenwell fire station

Clerkenwell fire station Clerkenwell fire station

Thursday, March 27, 2014
7:00 AM

More than £100,000 of public money will be spent on security measures at Clerkenwell fire station which was shut down earlier this year, it has been revealed.

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More than £100,000 of public money will be spent on security measures at Clerkenwell fire station which was shut down earlier this year, it has been revealed.

The building, which has been empty since January, will need £103,592 for on site security – the highest amount out of all the capital’s former fire stations.

Figures seen by the Islington Gazette show that £20,342 has already been spent and a further £83,250 is anticipated to be shelled out during the next financial year.

The news has angered firefighters and politicians, who say it “rubbed salt in the wound” to those who wanted to keep the facility open.

Islington firefighter and London Fire Brigade official, Greg Edwards, said: “I think it shows a short-sightedness in their plan to shut the fire stations and a complete lack of strategic planning.

“Those fire stations are strategically placed and if they need to return to those areas in the future who knows what that could cost.”

Leader of the Lib Dem group in Islington, Cllr Terry Stacy, labelled the situation a “farce”. He continued: “The fire stations at Clerkenwell and Dalston Kingsland should never have been closed in the first place, but now we see Boris allowing them to stand empty and rot away while he twiddles his thumbs about what to do next with them.

“The Mayor needs to find temporary uses for these buildings urgently and in the long-term these sites are ideal for more affordable housing in London.”

MP for Islington South and Finsbury, Emily Thornberry, said: “The fire station shouldn’t have closed in the first place but given they have done that they are just making it worse by wasting it as an asset. We don’t have space to waste.

“It’s unforgiveable that it closed and now they’re not even using it. It’s rubbing salt in the wound.

“It really shouldn’t take a great deal of imagination to come up with something that would benefit the public but it looks like it’s going to take more than a year to do that.”

Clerkenwell station, which was the oldest in the country, dating back to the 1870s, was one of 10 in the capital to be shut by London Fire Brigade (LFB) as part of plans to save £29million.

The move prompted widespread opposition from the community and seven councils – including Islington – fought the plans but lost their battle at the High Court.

Overall, £723,711 will be spent on security measures at all of London’s closed fire stations by the end of the next financial year.

On site security at Hackney’s Kingsland station, which also served Islington, will cost £70,000.

The figures were obtained by Liberal Democrat members in the London Assembly following a request made last month.

A London Fire Brigade spokesman defended the costs, which he said were necessary to prevent the station from being vandalised.

“The cost of security is a one off payment and is off set by the millions saved every year by closing these stations. Once closed, it was important to make sure the buildings were safe and secure in order to achieve resale and avoid squatting and other public nuisances.”

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