When will they ever learn?

Way back in November I last wrote about the Fire Service.

By way of an update it seems that there was a vote last month.

Plans to close 12 fire stations with the loss of 520 jobs have been rejected by the London Fire Authority.

After a fierce debate the proposals – aimed at saving £45m over the next two years – were rejected.

The authority voted by 9-8 in favour of a Labour amendment deleting any references to station closures, appliance reductions and job losses in any future public consultation.

That seems quite emphatic to me, not the result of the vote, but the scope of the amendment.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has ultimate power over the fire authority, said he will “ensure” the consultation continues.

The mayor said: “I am of course always willing to listen to submissions, but it’s quite clear today’s decision offers nothing positive, indeed it demonstrates a complete lack of leadership.

“This must and will be about improving London’s fire service, equipping the brigade for the challenges of 21st century firefighting, and maintaining our exceptional response times across both inner and outer London.

This consultation will continue as planned. I will be issuing a mayoral directive to ensure it does.

This last sentence bothers me.  Is this Democracy, Autocracy or just plain Bullying?  I obviously need to be retrained (again) as it doesn’t sit well with I thought Democracy was about.

Labour said its members on the fire authority voted against the proposals because they believed they would jeopardise safety and in my opinion this is right and proper.

Firefighters who attended helicopter crash are among those facing the axe through Mayor Boris’s cuts. 

We mustn’t get over-emotional, these things thankfully don’t happen every day.  However we do need to be prepared for what MIGHT happen.  I was long ago told that my job was not so much about what I did on any given day but what I might be called upon to do on ANY day of ANY year.  Yes, I know these contingencies are expensive, but can we really afford NOT to have them in place.  If this is so then the Fire Brigade, Police, Ambulance, NHS, Armed Forces, Coastguard, Prison Officers – ANY public service carrying out contingency plans may as well give up and stop doing it because those plans assume a certain level of service.  If, for example, Mayor Boris goes ahead and closes his 12 Fire Stations in London Ambulance, Hospitals and Police will probably have half their contingency plans thrown into disarray because the Fire Engines they’ve counted on won’t be there.  Back to the Chaos Theory – this time Boris flaps his wings and London suffers somewhere.

The latest news on this sorry affair is this

Mayor under fire from London councils over station closure plans

Kensington and Chelsea [the richest Borough in the UK I believe] has become the latest London borough to oppose Boris Johnson’s cost-cutting plans to close 12 of the capital’s fire stations.  Under the Mayor’s proposals, Knightsbridge will be closed, while one of Chelsea fire station’s two pumps will be removed under the Fifth London Safety Plan.

Boris Johnson will use legal powers to force cuts to London Fire Service

Boris Johnson will drive through plans to axe 12 fire stations, 18 engines and 520 jobs after his own fire authority voted against the proposal. Local stations of Knightsbridge and Westminster are numbered amongst these.The Mayor is to take the unprecedented step of using his legal power of direction to force his proposals to be consulted upon. Johnson criticised the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority for showing a “complete lack of leadership” by rejecting his plans to save £45 million from the fire service budget over two years.

We know what the Conservative definition of ‘Consultation is.  All I know is that casting my battered memory back to my schooldays when kids behaved like this in the playground they were branded BULLIES.  Now, I don’t know if Boris is, or ever has been, a bully, but shurely Democracy it ain’t.

Raising taxes is never popular whichever government proposes.  However, according to the most recent UK Census the working population of the UK is just over 38 million.  Surely increasing Income Tax and Council Tax by a small, affordable amount will save SOME of these services, and is infinitely preferable to industrial-scale redundancies, pay freezes, chipping away at pay scales, reducing pensions.  At a rough guess £10-£15 per year per working adult won’t solve all the problems but SURELY it will make some kind of impact and folk would be better off in the long run.

I’ve said it many times before, I’m no economist, maybe that shows, maybe I’m being naive, maybe it wouldn’t work, but it seems far more palatable than some of the alternatives.


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