Boris Johnson brands accusations he made himself a “winnner” under Islington fire cuts “disgraceful”
PUBLISHED: 17:50 25 June 2013 | UPDATED: 11:42 26 June 2013
Boris Johnson has reacted angrily to accusations that he deliberately protected his own family from fire service cuts while dumping longer waiting times on fellow Islington residents.
As the Gazette recently revealed, the mayor will have to wait just seconds more for a fire engine to arrive if a blaze breaks out at his home, compared with minutes for residents in other wards.
But, during a heated showdown with Islington and Hackney’s London Assembly Member Jennette Arnold, the mayor said that the allegation that he had made himself a cuts “winner” was “disgraceful”.
The fiery exchange came as Islington Council leader Catherine West and opposition leader Terry Stacy, a Liberal Democrat fire authority member, wrote to London fire commissioner Ron Dobson informing him of the council’s “unanimous” rejection of the plan at a full council meeting.
Clerkenwell, which is Europe’s oldest fire station, and Kingsland in neighbouring Hackney are set to be axed under the proposals.
During last week’s heated Mayor’s Question Time, Ms Arnold demanded: “Mr Mayor, do you think it acceptable that you and your family and neighbours are going to be winners? Because in your ward you will only have to wait 21 seconds for the arrival of the first appliance. But my constituents in Clerkenwell will have to wait six minutes, 26 seconds.”
Mr Johnson retorted: “Anybody who thinks we can be actuated by that sort of motivation – it’s a disgraceful thing to say.”
But Ms Arnold said she had amassed a 5,000 signature petition, adding: “People are absolutely frightened of the consequences that might arise from your plan.”
The mayor hit back, saying: “The substance is that I’ve deliberately favoured my own household and own family. Is that what you’re saying? I think you should withdraw that assertion.
“If you’re suggesting the fire plan is based on the consideration of individual families, that’s contemptible. You should withdraw it. I will continue to consider the proposals we have.”
Figures show the mayor will have to wait no longer than 20 extra seconds for the first fire engine if a blaze breaks out in St Peter’s ward, where he has his home.
But brigade figures show residents of Clerkenwell ward will have to wait some seven times more – two minutes and seven seconds.
Mildmay ward will have to wait an extra 57 seconds for the first fire engine.
Mr Johnson insists services will not be affected by the cuts, which will see fire stations reduced to 100 from 112 and the axing of 520 jobs and 18 fire engines to help save £45million.