Boris branded “hypocrite” as he emerges a “winner” from planned Islington fire cuts
PUBLISHED: 15:16 03 June 2013 | UPDATED: 16:33 19 June 2013
Boris Johnson was today accused of “covering his own back” after he emerged as one of the “winners” from planned £45 million cuts to the London Fire Brigade.
Figures show the Mayor, who lives in Islington’s St Peter’s ward will have to wait an extra 17 seconds for a fire engine if a blaze breaks out in his home.
But figures released by the Brigade show his fellow residents in Clerkenwell ward will have to wait more than seven times longer – 2m 7s.
Meanwhile, Mildmay ward will have to wait 57s for the first fire engine to arrive after planned cuts to Clerkenwell and Kingsland fire stations.
Residents in Hillrise ward will only have to wait four seconds longer for the first pump.
At a fiery Islington Town Hall protest meeting last week, when asked by the Gazette about increased waiting times for Clerkenwell, the Brigade’s chief, London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson, admitted the cuts will create “winners and losers”.
Jennette Arnold, Labour London Assembly Member for Islington and Hackney, said the figures clearly show Boris a “winner”, adding it was “outrageous” how the axe is to fall.
She said: “We have to ask the question, why is it our Mayor is one of the winners while constituents in Clerkenwell are losers?
“We have to ask why the Mayor is only going to be waiting a matter of seconds while others will be waiting minutes.
“You can just about hold your breath for seconds, but can you do it for two minutes?
“It just confirms what most people in Islington know, which is that he just doesn’t care. I would like to put it to him, how would he really feel if he was living in one of these homes waiting two minutes.
“It’s people in homes like Boris’s that are clearly winners, but what about the rest of the residents in Islington? It’s outrageous.”
Labour and Liberal Democrat figures have been calling on the Mayor to reverse council tax cuts in order to maintain the fire service as it is.
Islington councillor and London Fire Authority member Terry Stacy said: “He’s one of the lucky ones. It’s a bit hypocritical because of his blinkered determination to be seen as a council tax-cutting Mayor, which is more about his own future in the Conservative Party.
“He is putting lives at risk and covering his own back while the people of Clerkenwell, Mildmay and Barnsbury suffer the reduced service.”
Protesters who clashed with the Commissioner at the town hall last week argue Islington will be disproportionately hit because it has more high-rise towers than any other London borough, meaning it can take longer for crews to reach fires.
The cuts are part of a plan to lose 12 fire stations, 18 engines and 520 firefighters across the capital.
MP for Islington South and Finsbury, Emily Thornberry, said: “The truth is everyone in Islington is a loser, but some less than others, and the ones this affects the most are those in the most built up areas.
“I’m not sure it’s deliberate because I don’t think Boris has even thought it through. I’m not even going to give him the credit of thinking it through, he simply hasn’t.”
A spokesman for Boris said they do not comment on times for individual wards, but added: “The Mayor and the Commissioner have to make difficult decisions to ensure the fire service protects the whole of London.”
Opponents are urging protesters to join a march against the cuts on Saturday, June 8, starting at Highbury Fields at 1pm and walking on to a rally in Spa Fields. The brigade’s consultation on the proposals ends on June 17.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Islington Gazette. Click the link in the orange box below for details.