LSP5 (Supplementary) [7]

Session date: 
May 22, 2013
Question By: 
Gareth Bacon
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Gareth Bacon (AM): Mr Mayor, the consultation is important but there is an argument that has been done in an overkill way. I attended one in Newham. Newham is one of the boroughs where there is actually going to be a fire station closure. Only one member of the public turned up who asked three or four questions, one of which was why we had not laid on refreshments for the general public.

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for LSP5 (Supplementary) [7]

Answer for LSP5 (Supplementary) [7]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): What was the answer, by the way? Cost-cutting?

Gareth Bacon (AM): Cost-cutting, because we are having lots of meetings that people are not turning up to.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Very good.

Gareth Bacon (AM): I want to return to something that Navin Shah [AM] said, which is the usual punch line about the savings in the fire brigade having to be forced through by you in order to fund the 1p per day council tax cut. As we know, because we trailed over this in great detail during the budget-setting process here and also at LFEPA, the council tax cut that you announced as part of your budget earlier this year amounts to around about £9.3 million a year, and that would release the council tax freeze grants, which could go to whatever you choose. The argument from the Labour Group is that it should go towards protecting the Fire Service. That of course would realise around about £18.6 million over two years, but the fire brigade has to make savings in excess of £40 million over two years. So, I am very interested, Mr Mayor, in your views as to how £18.6 million can actually cover in excess of £40 million?

Even Andrew Dismore [AM] stopped that line before the Labour Group booted him off the Fire Authority. Do you think it is a case of Navin Shah scaremongering for political purposes or --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Has Andrew been booted off of our authority?

Gareth Bacon (AM): Tragically he has.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): That is outrageous. Why are they picking on Dismore?

Darren Johnson (Chair): Mayor, if you can answer the question, rather than talking about Mr Dismore.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Sorry, I am momentarily overcome.

Gareth Bacon (AM): The question, Mr Mayor, is whether or not it is that Mr [Navin] Shah [AM] is incapable of adding up incorrectly or whether he is scaremongering?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Your point, Gareth, is the right one because there is no connection between these two things at all. The savings that we need could not in any way be found by jiggling around with the council tax. What we need to do is to get on with the reform that actually when you dig into it the senior officers in the LFB think that they would have to do anyway. You need to, in tough times particularly, get on with sensible reforms. This is a way of improving the allocation of resources in the LFB whilst continuing to drive down deaths from fires. That is what they want to do and let us wait to see the outcome of the consultation. Let us wait to see what happens in Lewisham. Let us take all the data, all the evidence we get. If we can make improvements to the plan, yes of course we will, but let us get on and do it.