Firefighters have reacted angrily after a promise to return 13 fire engines to London fire stations was blocked by Mayor Boris Johnson.
The Fire Brigades Union says it is concerned the safety of Londoners is being compromised.
The fire engines were requisitioned for the use of private strikebreakers to cover periods of strike action called in the ongoing dispute over firefightersâ€™ pensions.
After several months of discussions, the Fire Brigades Unionâ€™s general secretary, Matt Wrack, wrote to the London Fire Brigade commissioner, Ron Dobson, on Tuesday 9 June, confirming that the FBU had agreed to his terms for the return of the vehicles.
However instead of returning the fire engines to stations, the commissioner stonewalled the union for several days. It then emerged that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, yesterday issued a â€˜mayoral directionâ€™ ordering the commissioner not to return the appliances â€˜while the different budget options are being consideredâ€™â€” a process that will take months.
Ian Leahair, executive council member for the FBU in London, said firefighters are â€˜incandescentâ€™ with anger at the news.
He said: â€œWe have been lied to and misled. We took part in discussions in good faith, and we agreed terms with the brigadeâ€™s negotiators. Then we learnt, at the eleventh hour, that the mayor had issued his direction and scuppered everything.
â€œBoris Johnson plainly wants to scrap these appliances permanently. A decision that will put the public at risk.
â€œThe commissioner and mayor must answer key questions, including whether they engineered a delay of several days after an agreement was reached with the FBU to allow the mayor time to issue his direction?
â€œWe want these 13 appliances back on stations where they belong.â€
Fiona Twycross, Labourâ€™s London Assembly Fire spokesperson said:Â â€œEighteen months ago Boris Johnson forced the closures of ten fire stations with the removal of fourteen fire engines and well over five hundred firefighters.
â€œAt that point he promised to protect Londonâ€™s front line fire services for the future. But after this cynical move to cut these thirteen appliances Londoners will understandably question whether he will deliver on the promise.â€
London Mayoral candidate and Tottenham MP David LammyÂ said:Â â€œThroughout Boris Johnsonâ€™s mayoralty he has shown a complete disregard for emergency services in London, closing fire stations, presiding over an ambulance crisis and getting rid of thousands of police officers.Â
“These fire engines are part of the vital services that protect Londoners – Boris Johnson said he would return them and is now going back on his word. Londoners have the right to expect much more from the Mayor when it comes to defending the services they rely on. I would urge him to think again and keep his promise to return these 13 engines.â€
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