2016-17 Budget impact on fire services

Meeting: 
MQT on 2015-09-16
Session date: 
September 16, 2015
Reference: 
2015/2756
Question By: 
Fiona Twycross
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor
Category: 

Question

Given the impact of your previous budgets on LFEPA, what impact do you envisage that your 2016/17 budget will have on fire provision in London?

Answer

Answer for 2016-17 Budget impact on fire services

Answer for 2016-17 Budget impact on fire services

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thanks very much, Fiona.  I look forward to receiving the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority’s (LFEPA) budget submission for 2016/17 in November.  I have made sure in previous mayoral budgets that LFEPA is well provided for.

I congratulate the London Fire Brigade on its excellent work.  It continues to have fantastic results in the capital.  There were fewer than 20,000 fires in 2014/15.  That is the lowest since records began.  First and second engine response times, about which we have talked so much in this place, remain well within the target response times set.  It is a fantastic job by the fire brigade.  Obviously we need to have a budget that will keep them going at that level.

Fiona Twycross AM:  Obviously we have had quite a lot of arguments over the past few months about the 13 appliances that are currently off the run and the idea that it would be a very easy way to meet your budget cuts if we just got rid of those 13 appliances.  One of the questions I, the Fire Authority [LFEPA] Members and firefighters want answered is whether you are genuinely prepared to consider other alternatives or whether you have already made your mind up that you want to cut these 13 appliances?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It is something that LFEPA will have to consider.  As far as I understand the situation, the 13 appliances have not been used for a couple of years now.  In that context there have still been serious reductions in fires and in death from fire.  There must be a real budgetary question about how to respond that.  I look forward to seeing what LFEPA has to say. 

Fiona Twycross AM:  Permanently removing pumps is quite a drastic option.  You have already committed previously to not having further major reconfiguration of frontline services while you are Mayor.  While the overall figures look very positive, in some of the areas where the fire engines have been removed there have been significant increases in attendance time.  Stratford, as a result of this, are one down.  Newham has had a 55 second increase since 2012/13.  Lewisham has had an increase of 33 seconds where one of the fire engines is missing from Forest Hill.  Although the overall picture can look good we know that every second counts in a fire.  In the areas which have been affected the picture is slightly less positive than you suggest. 

What we really want you to commit to is genuinely considering alternative budget proposals that come forward.  There are alternatives.  Andrew [Dismore AM] as Chair of the Resources Committee is working on alternatives with staff.  What we want you to do is listen and take on board what you have previously committed to which is no further major reconfiguration of frontline services while you are Mayor.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Fiona, I look forward to what LFEPA has to say about the budgetary implications of the fact that the 13 fire engines have not been used for two years without any apparent detriment to fire cover in London. 

Fiona Twycross AM:  I want a yes/no answer really on this one, not beating about the bush.  If we come up with alternative proposals - agreed by the Labour party, maybe the Liberal Democrats will come on board, maybe the Green member will come on board and hopefully you will be able to persuade the Conservatives that this is a better way forward - will you commit to not directing us to remove these 13 appliances?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, I will give you a ‘yes’ answer.  I will commit to looking at your budgetary proposals.

Fiona Twycross AM:  I think that is as good as it gets today, thank you.