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Fire stations in Barnet 'could close' under London mayor Boris Johnson's plans, says GLA member Andrew Dismore
Fire stations in Barnet “could be shut down” under cost-cutting plans by London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Labour politician Andrew Dismore is worried one or more of Barnet’s four stations could be targeted as penny pinching officers at City Hall look to save £64.8million from the London Fire Brigade's budget.
The mayor’s office is looking to dramatically reduce the fire brigade's spending over the next two financial years, but the authority in charge of the service says cuts to frontline services would be unavoidable under current financial targets.
The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) claims it would have to close of up to 30 stations across the capital to make up the deficit - with Barnet's own stations looking vulnerable.
A list of potential closures was due to be released by the authority at the end of September, but both the Conservative and Green Party members opposed its publication.
Labour member Mr Dismore, who sits on the LFEPA, said: “There is plenty of evidence that 30 fire stations are going and there is a chance a Barnet station could go. The one problem with Barnet is the call-out times are worse than some of the other stations.
“We were promised a list by the end of September but we have had nothing – it is very frustrating. The moment the list is published, there will be uproar, so they’re just looking to minimise that.”
Latest figures show Barnet’s fire stations have the second longest call-out times across the capital combined, at an average of 6mins 22secs.
Kensington and Chelsea hold the fastest average at 4mins 30secs with the slowest being Hillingdon with 6mins 38secs.
Ed Williams, clerk to the LFEPA, wrote to Mr Johnson on Thursday, laying out the authority’s concerns.
He said: “The authority is of the opinion that the scale of cuts expected by the Mayor is unacceptable and that (it) will lead to the closure of up to 30 fire stations and the loss of up to 30 pumping applications, with consequent reduction in attendance times and impact on public safety.”
The cost of running a one-pump station in the capital is £1.45million-a-year, with a two-pump station costing £2.43million.
Barnet stations that could be named on the list are Long Lane, in Finchley, Station Road, in High Barnet, The Burroughs, in Hendon, and Hartley Avenue, in Mill Hill.
Mr Dismore said: “Barnet is a big area and, with the major regeneration of Colindale and other areas, it is growing.
“Essentially, the population is going up and the emergency services are being reduced. The budget is now effectively set so there is practically no other options. I think it is a major concern.”
A Mayor of London's office spokeswoman said: "They are slightly jumping the gun with these claims.
"There has been no formal proposals yet and, once the LFEPA submits those to the Mayor of London, he will have the final say as to whether the cuts are realistic.
"We appreciate some difficult decisions have to be made but nothing has been put down on paper."