Questions to the Mayor on his Final Draft Consolidated Budget (Supplementary) [12]

Session date: 
February 22, 2016
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Andrew Dismore AM:  I would like to move on to the Fire Brigade.  

 

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Andrew Dismore AM:  You have indicated that you intend to direct the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) to cut 13 fire engines, which we do not need to do and we can balance without doing so.

 

Were you aware when you decided to issue that directive that on 6 February 2016 nine fire stations were out of action for an entire shift and five more were off the run for at least two hours due to staff shortages?  Of those nine stations, three of them - one third of them - are where you have taken one of their two engines away and, if you had not, those stations would have remained operational.  Were you aware that this is not the first time recently we have had large numbers of stations off the run?  For example, on 26 October 2015, the day of that fatal fire in Camden that we have debated before, nine stations were off the run for the entire shift, including one of those where you have taken the pumps away, and two more were off the run for part of a shift.  Five of the 13 stations that you want to lose an engine from are not even on your optimum list to lose a pump.

 

Did you know all of that when you decided to put two fingers up to the public consultation, which overwhelmingly decided that they wanted to keep those 13 fire engines because they recognised that they did not need to lose them?  They have a greater concern for the safety of London than you, do they not?

Answer

Answer for Questions to the Mayor on his Final Draft Consolidated Budget (Supplementary) [12]

Answer for Questions to the Mayor on his Final Draft Consolidated Budget (Supplementary) [12]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Your last point is really, frankly, totally wrong when you consider that deaths from fire and fires have come down by about 50% since I have been Mayor.  As I was saying earlier on, it is of huge importance to people across the city and the London Fire Brigade does an outstanding job and a really amazing job.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Nobody is disputing that.  Will you answer the question?  Were you aware that those nine stations were off the run?  Were you aware of that when you made your decision?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It is true that there is extra cash, as you have discovered, in the budget.  The pensions cash is available.  I understand the point that you make about keeping the 13 appliances.  I listened to what you have to say and I will have a ‑‑

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  It is a simple question.  Did you or did you not know that nine stations were off the run?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No.  I did not know that, no.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  No, you did not, did you?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I was not aware of that but I will have a look at ‑‑

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Did you know that nine stations were off the run on 26 October 2015?  Did you know that?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It has done nothing to change the record, which is that ‑‑

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Did you know that, Mr Mayor?  It is a simple question.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Actually, can I tell you that ‑‑

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  No.  Did you know that?  It is a simple question.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Did you know that there were fewer than 20,000 fires last year for the first time since records began?  Did you know that deaths by fire have been cut in half over the last five years?  Did you know that?

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Of course I did, but that is not the point, is it?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That is the key question.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  That is the result of the good work of the Fire Brigade on its present strength.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I know and ‑‑

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  If you cut the Fire Brigade - as you have cut the police and seen crime go up - you will see a similar impact on fire deaths.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  OK, that is a serious point and that is a ‑‑

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Did you know ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, I did not.  I told you.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  It is a simple question.  No, you did not?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I have answered your simple question about 15 times now, always in the same way.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  No, you have not, actually.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I did, actually.  I answered it about ‑‑

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  You did not know, did you?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I did and so ‑‑

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  You said you did not.  You did?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I did answer your question.  I said I did not know this pointless statistic that you quote because the crucial ‑‑

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  It is pointless that nine stations are off the run, is it?  It is pointless to Londoners that nine fire stations are off the run?  You think that is pointless, do you?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I was not aware of this absolutely useless and recondite fact that you have dug up ‑‑

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  The people of London do not think that nine fire stations being off the run is pointless, even if you do.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  What I did know is that deaths are down at record lows and have been cut by 50% in the last five years and the number of actual fires in this city is down to its lowest since records began.  That is very largely thanks to the work of the London Fire Brigade, which we are all trying to support, Andrew.  Everybody here - and Gareth [Gareth Bacon AM] as Chair of LFEPA - is trying to support LFEPA.