Assembly accuses Mayor of trying to gerrymander Fire Authority

19 March 2014

The London Assembly today resolved [1] to oppose proposals by Mayor Boris Johnson to remove four elected representatives from the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) and replace them with direct mayoral appointees.

The Mayor is proposing to ask the Government to change the make-up of LFEPA by reducing the number of Assembly Members from 8 to 6 and the number of Borough councillors from 7 to five. He proposes increasing the number of mayoral appointees from 2 to 6.

Fiona Twycross AM, who proposed the amended resolution, said:

“While the current system of governance at the Fire Authority isn’t perfect rather than embarking on a consensual approach to thought through reform the Mayor is embarked on a rushed and dubious attempt to gerrymander the Fire Authority.

“Boris wants to pack LFEPA with political placemen because he doesn’t like it when people answer back and speak out against the dangerous cuts to fire services he has imposed on London.

“The mayor is seeking to create a sham public body that will be little more than a rubber stamp for decisions taken by this or future mayors. It is a move away from democratic accountability that should not be countenanced.”

The full text of the resolution is:

This Assembly notes that the Mayor is minded in the short term, to seek a reduction of elected Members on the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) and replace them with his appointees and in the longer term, to replace LFEPA with a MOPAC-style governance structure.

This Assembly believes that it is important that the London Fire Brigade is governed by elected Members, representing the views of the whole of London and who can provide a check and balance on the Mayor’s powers. The Mayor’s proposal to increase his appointees by 4, from 2 to 6, jeopardises the democratic integrity of the Authority.

Rather than looking at improving the leadership on the Authority, the Mayor is advocating the drastic measure of changing the governance of the London Fire Brigade to effectively manufacture an inbuilt majority more likely to agree with the Mayor than the political balance within the Assembly and London Councils would otherwise suggest is appropriate.

This Assembly condemns these proposals and demands that the Mayor instead works with the Assembly to develop proposals that would provide strong leadership, accountability and democratic representation to improve the provision of the fire and rescue service to Londoners

Notes to editors

  1. The resolution was agreed by 12 votes for to 7 against at a meeting of the full Assembly today. Watch the webcast.
  2. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.