PRESS RELEASE: Firesale of AssetCo raises serious questions

Credit: Danny MCL (Flickr) http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmcl/

Alarming questions raised over Fire Brigade blue light fleet privatisation take over

Andrew Dismore AM, Labour London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden and Labour lead member of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority Resources Committee (LFEPA) has today written to the Chair of the Authority, Boris Johnson nominee James Cleverley AM, about the takeover of the privatised company responsible for the upkeep and replacement of all London’s fire engines.

Mr Dismore said:

“The announcement out of the blue last week over the takeover of AssetCo, the private sector company responsible for the Fire Brigade’s blue light turnout vehicles raises very serious concerns.

It was common knowledge that AssetCo was in trouble and was struggling to maintain its obligations under the contract, but the sale of everything, lock stock and barrel for just £2, including all the fire engines, to a private limited company which I have now established was registered at Companies House only a month ago, has never filed accounts and with only one director raises the alarm for the Fire Brigade.

The takeover was done without notice to the Fire Authority, as though it was just a simple trading company selling baked beans, not the major emergency service which it is, of importance not just to London but the country as a whole, as the Olympics demonstrated.

We have no idea of the finances of this secretive company or its intentions as it has no track record. There has to be at the very least a theoretical risk of asset stripping of the workshops and fleet. At least AssetCo was a PLC, with obligations to the Stock Exchange for transparency, unlike the new owners of our Fire Brigade’s fire engines.

What we are witnessing is yet another private sector cooperate failure that has the potential to dwarf the G4S fiasco.

The people of London, who depend on their emergency services, need answers, and answers fast.”

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