Your election manifesto and fire service cuts (Supplementary) [4]

Session date: 
July 17, 2013
Question By: 
Gareth Bacon
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

I am sure you are aware, Mr Mayor, throughout the period of consultation the Labour group, and others, have been pushing the line that the reason for savings having to be made in the fire brigade is to fund a 1 p a day, in their words, council tax preset cuts from you. They claim that they could cover that using the preset freeze grants, so not going with the preset freeze or preset cut. Of course that would only raise £9.5 million a year, yet the fire brigade needs to save in excess of £40 million every year from now onwards. Given that Mr Dismore has just sat there and accused you deceiving Londoners, what do you think we should call him in response to that?

Answer

Answer for Your election manifesto and fire service cuts (Supplementary) [4]

Answer for Your election manifesto and fire service cuts (Supplementary) [4]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): As I said earlier, I do not take very seriously a lot of the stuff that you people say.

Gareth Bacon (AM): Wise.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): What I do take seriously is the view of those who concentrate their lives to fighting fire in our city. Actually it is not a question of the cash. This is a question of what is the best disposition, what is the best configuration of fire services in London. They see their responsibility as being to go for reform and they need politicians who are going to have the guts to stand up for them and go for that reform. If you look around the world at places that have allowed this problem to get out of control, it causes very, very serious damage to municipal finance and it does nothing to improve fire cover in the cities concerned. I think what I am being told is a credible way forward. Obviously we are still looking at it. I will see what LFEPA does, I will certainly take account of all the advice I am given, all the points that are made, and there you have it.

Gareth Bacon (AM): Mr Mayor, it is a fact that the overwhelming bulk of the funding that goes into the fire brigade comes from Central Government grant, rather than from this building, and the overwhelming reason for saving needing to be made is because that grant has been cut substantially by the Government. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in the comprehensive spending review in the last fortnight announced that a further 7.5% reduction in funding for fire and rescue services up and down the country would be made. Just for the record, Mr Mayor, is it correct that your budget guidance issued last Tuesday committed to provide additional support to LFEPA until 2015/16, meaning that there would not need to be any further operational changes until that point?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You could draw that conclusion but, as I say, I am keen to do this and do it properly. I am not disposed to make any final decision on that today.