July 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Tears and anger punctuated the ending of the last watch at Europe’s oldest fire station today (January 9).
Firefighters, politicians and members of the public gathered to voice their disgust as Clerkenwell Fire Station closed as part of Mayor Boris Johnson’s cuts to the service.
The demonstration was the largest of several that took place across London today, with 10 stations set to close across the capital.
Campaigners raised concerns over the effect the closure would have on response times in Islington while those who worked at the station mourned their second home.
Alex Badcock, the longest serving firefighter at Clerkenwell, was in floods of tears at he left the building for the last time.
He said: “This is a sad, sad day and I’m so proud to have worked at Clerkenwell.
“I have some really fond memories here, it’s not just been a job for me, it’s more like a family.
“I’m really proud to have served Islington for almost 30 years, it’s the best borough in the country and it’s a tragedy that the station is closing.
“It will leave a massive whole in the borough.”
Paul Embery, London regional secretary of the FBU, said the closure would have a serious and potentially deadly impact on those living nearby.
“It’s heart breaking to see,” he said.
“This is the oldest fire station in Europe, it’s been around for 141 years, survived both world wars – but it can’t survive Boris Johnson.
“This will increase response times and put people at risk, the behaviour of fire and smoke has not changed.”
Campaigners jeered Boris Johnson and politicians who spoke at the rally suggested the Mayor hang his head in shame at the closure, which they said would save each taxpayer just 7p.
Jennette Arnold, London Assembly Member for Islington and Hackney, was at the heart of the campaign to save the station, she said: “Boris has not listened to local residents and is forcing these cuts through.
“In response to his consultation 94 per cent of Londoners said they do not support his plans.
“Today’s cuts are a terrible new year’s present, Boris should be thoroughly ashamed and held to account for these reckless closures that will put Londoners’ safety at risk, including many of my constituents in Hackney and Islington.”