London councils' plea to Government to stop fire cuts

Eight London councils are asking the Mayor to halt fire cuts Credit: Reuters

Eight London town halls today made a last-minute plea to Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles to stop sweeping fire service cuts.

Boris Johnson ruled earlier this month that his plan to axe 10 fire stations, 14 fire engines and 552 firefighters in the capital would go ahead.

But the local authorities, all Labour-run, have written to the Cabinet minister who has ultimate responsibility for the fire and rescue service, asking him to overrule the Mayor's decision.

Camden, Greenwich, Hackney, Islington, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest argue the closure plan will disproportionately affect public safety in their boroughs.

They claim it ignores the fire risks posed by potential terrorist targets and a concentration of tourist attractions, as well as social and student housing, and the challenges of fighting fires in high-rise buildings.

Mr Johnson insists that the cuts - part of plans to save £28.8 million - will not impact on public safety, and that fire deaths in the capital are falling.