Dismore questions Mayor over Fire Brigade Finances

At today’s Mayor’s Question Time, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore AM questioned London Mayor Sadiq Khan over the financial settlement for London Fire Brigade.

Mr Dismore asked the Mayor:

‘I am sure you will join with me in condemning the vicious assault on a firefighter overnight.  He was doing his duty attending a fire at a block of flats in Thornton Heath. We wish him a speedy recovery. Violence towards our emergency service workers cannot be tolerated and those who carry out such attacks must face the full force of the law.

‘International data on big city fire and rescue services funding show that London Fire Brigade is being run on a small percentage of what is allocated. to other global cities such as New York, Toronto, Singapore and Tokyo.  Whilst London has the second highest population of these global cities, it receives the lowest funding- just 83p per head, less than half the average of £1.76 per head.

‘The LFC Budget has been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic at a time when LFB is stretching itself to deliver its Transformation Plan as well as responding to changes in London’s built environment. How is your budget helping LFB to deliver the Transformation Plan and to keep Londoners safe?

‘After then Mayor Boris Johnson shut 10 fire stations, axed 14 appliances and cut over 500 firefighters’ jobs, and  given that the Mayer Review reported  that LFB could not shoulder any further reductions “if it is to have sufficient resources to meet the challenges of the future, and to keep Londoners safe”, which of course was before the pandemic and before Grenfell, both of which created significant  extra demands on the Brigade, does it concern you, that Boris Johnson’s Conservative  Government has consistently failed to understand the implications for Londoners’ safety of running LFB on a shoestring?

‘There are currently 625 buildings in London with simultaneous evacuation orders in place. The majority of these, 456, have dangerous cladding and a further 117 have inadequate compartmentation, due to fragmented regulation. All of these buildings now need regular inspection and monitoring by the LFB. Do you agree that the residents of these buildings have been failed twice by the Government: firstly by their shoddy and inadequate regulatory regime; and secondly by the refusal of the Conservative Government fully to fund the Brigade to monitor such dangerous buildings without impacting upon their other work? How can this be resolved?’

The Mayor said that his budget made sure that the LFB had to face the smallest cuts of all. He had been able to cut in half the savings required of the LFB from £10 million to £5 million, and required them to continue to meet their obligations such as response times, and the findings of the Grenfell Tower report and the inspectorate reports. The bill going before Parliament now also will add more obligations

He said he was worried about the plight of firefighters, and that so many tall buildings were unsafe. City Hall funds the LFB by £20 million more than the government says it should, but unless the government steps in, funding will not be at the level it needs to be to keep Londoners safe.

The Mayor added that the government had failed residents of London by underfunding the LFB, and that they were not doing enough to deal with the built environment and cladding remediation.

The Mayor also confirmed that the firefighter who was assaulted has been wearing a helmet, and was not seriously hurt, and that the perpetrator should face the full force of the law.