24 December 2013
Johnson wins court fight over fire stations
Boris Johnson's plans to shut ten fire stations in the capital have been boosted after seven councils lost a high court battle.
The boroughs of Hackney, Islington, Camden, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Greenwich are all earmarked to have depots closed down under the mayor's strategy, but this has proved unpopular, reports the Evening Standard.
Protests have swept across some areas of the capital over the move and all seven of the boroughs launched legal action to try and prevent it from happening, but failed to do so as a High Court judge struck its case down.
The Fire Brigades Union is one of the main opponents of Boris Johnson's plans and wants the authorities to reverse their decision and pump more money into the capital's emergency service infrastructure.
But a spokesperson for the London Fire Brigade rebutted claims by some protesters that the closure of depots would have resulted in a slower reaction to the recent ceiling collapse at the Apollo Theatre, which left dozens injured.
"If the same incident were to happen after the closures we would still have the resources to attend in good time and meet attendance targets," the representative stated.
Mayor Johnson has also hit out at protesters and said his office's victory at the High Court should draw a line under the case.
"London's firefighters are the best in the world with incomparable response times. However, we need to continue to modernise the service so that it is fully equipped for the challenges of 21st century fire-fighting."
But Labour were less happy and its London Assembly members released a statement underlining its disappointment with the verdict handed down and claims it will increase response times.
"Boris should be thoroughly ashamed of himself," the lawmakers concluded.
It isn't just in London that fire stations are facing closure and the Fire Brigades Union has launched industrial action on a number of occasions this year in an attempt to draw media attention to its belief that its members are underpaid and not appreciated.
Posted by Francesca Witney
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