Dismore questions Mayor over Fire Brigade equipment funding, post Grenfell
Mayor says Government’s reply to request for additional money “Disappointing”
At today’s Mayor’s Question Time, London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden and Fire Authority member Andrew Dismore AM asked London Mayor Sadiq Khan what response he has had so far to his request for additional funding for the fire service, and what the consequences would be, if the Government does not accede to that request. The Mayor said that the Home Secretary’s response was “disappointing” (See video here)
As part of her initial post Grenfell fire assessment, the Fire Commissioner has identified a shortfall in what is needed to keep London safe, including 3 extended height aerial ladders, 2 drones, 1200 extended duration breathing apparatus sets, and other specialised kit, as well as restoring Boris Johnson’s previous cut of 27 Fire Safety Inspection Officers. Depending on the outcome of the current pay negotiations, the Brigade could face a budget gap of £25.5m in 2021/22, which is of a similar magnitude to the previous cuts forced through by Boris Johnson, despite the opposition of LFEPA itself.
The Mayor said that the reply from the Home Secretary was disappointing, in that the Home Secretary suggested that the £6 million worth of equipment and a further £6 million a year annual cost should be met from existing GLA funding. The Mayor said that the Government did not understand the GLA and the London Fire Brigade’s financial position after Government cuts, and the LFB would be in serious difficulty if additional funding was not forthcoming.
Mr Dismore asked the Mayor:
‘You have rightly told the Commissioner to get on with the procurement, as most of her equipment requirements are not off the shelf and have a lengthy lead in time, but how can all this essential material be afforded if the Government doesn’t help?
‘Boris Johnson’s cuts closed 10 fire stations, and removed 14 fire engines and over 500 firefighter posts. Do you agree that cuts to the Fire Brigade of such magnitude cannot be contemplated, without grave risks to Londoners and their homes?’
The Mayor said that he would be going back to the Home Secretary but unless the Government recognised the problem, he worried about the future funding of the service. Firefighters were entitled to expect the equipment and resources they needed to do the job.