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Taxpayer bill for maintaining empty Clerkenwell Fire Station: £264k

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 July 2016

Tearful firefighter Alex Badcock is consoled by a colleague after Clerkenwell Fire Station's last ever call-out in January 2014. Picture: Dieter Perry

Tearful firefighter Alex Badcock is consoled by a colleague after Clerkenwell Fire Station's last ever call-out in January 2014. Picture: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

Taxpayers have paid a “shocking” £264,000 to maintain the empty Clerkenwell Fire Station since 2014.

And campaigners this week used the figures to call on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to reopen the station.

The station, in Rosebery Avenue, was one of 10 to shut in January 2014 under previous mayor Boris Johnson’s fire service cuts.

It was the UK’s oldest fire station, and firefighters were pictured in tears after their last ever call-out.

The new figures, obtained by Liberal Democrats in City Hall, show the £263,882 has been spent on maintenance, security and utilities.

Greg Edwards, a Fire Brigade Union official who in 2013 led the campaign against the closure of Clerkenwell, told the Gazette: “It’s depressingly shocking. Once again, taxpayers’ money has been wasted.

“I’m now based at Islington and we thought it was costing a lot of money because it has 24-hour security.

“And when you go past Clerkenwell at night you can see the lights on. But I had no idea it would be this high.

“It’s alarming when the whole point of closure was supposedly to save money.”

Mr Edwards, who served at Clerkenwell for eight years, called for the station to be reopened.

“This could have stayed open in the first place, as the initiatives were there.

“But if it was to open again, part of it could be shared with other services, such as London Ambulance Service.”

Terry Stacy, the Liberal Democrat former leader of Islington Council, said: “This is a shocking waste of public money, a quarter of a million down the drain.

“Sadiq Khan now needs to come off the fence and make a call about reopening Clerkenwell Fire Station.

“We have major concerns about fire response times in north London, as highlighted by a Lancaster University analysis that found around 50 per cent of all call-outs in the areas where the stations closed did not meet the six minute response time target for the first fire engine to arrive.”

Mr Khan said in a statement: “As mayor the safety of all Londoners is my first priority.

“I believe the previous mayor was too aggressive in his cuts to the fire service, which have led to the closure of stations, the removal of fire engines and the loss of firefighters.

“That’s why I promised in my manifesto a review of fire resources in the capital, to help us plan for the future and deliver a more effective, improved and collaborative frontline service. I plan for this review to start shortly.”

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