The Fire Brigades Union has slammed a move to give Â£30 million of London Fire Brigade money to the police. It follows a â€˜one offâ€™ move last year which saw Â£20 million passed to the Met, bringing the total to a massive Â£50 million in just 2 years.
The LFEPA finance sub committee has voted through the transfer from fire brigade reserves to the police. The Met police reported reserves of over Â£70 million and an under spend on officer pay of over Â£18 million in their accounts of 2009/2010.
The Government is demanding Â£65 million of austerity budget cuts in the London fire service by 2014, on top of the money transferred to the police budget. This decision will come to the full Authority on the 24th November, with the union asking the authority to throw out the proposal.
Ben Sprung London FBU regional organiser said â€œWe are constantly told we are facing a budget squeeze yet once again there is money to give away. The fire service will have lost Â£50 million over a period of two years, a huge sum we cannot afford.
â€œPlans are being rushed through to privatise firefighter training and the control centre before the GLA elections. The argument being that they have no money for a capital investment. Keeping them in house would be a viable option if we stopped giving money away.
â€œThe Tory-controlled fire authority now claims it has so much money to spare it can give away another Â£30 million. To firefighters it looks like a cynical fix in advance of the GLA elections next year because policing is higher up the election agenda.
â€œWith a London election next year looming, policing is again expected to be a major issue and money is being taken from our accounts to bolster the police budget. This is playing politics at the expense of the fire service which will face a huge budget squeeze after the Olympics.
â€œAfter the civil disturbances, media and public attention focused on policing and police budgets and ignored the over-stretched fire service, despite its critical role. During the disturbances arson was the principle weapon of choice against communities and only the fire service can deal with that.
â€œThe Government is demanding austerity budget cuts of Â£65 million by 2014. Handing Â£50 million to the Met could lead to further pressure for frontline fire service cuts in the years ahead as the austerity cuts bite.
â€œWe urge the Fire Authority to vote against these plans when it comes before the full meeting on 24 November. It cannot be right to continue to rob money from one 999 service to pay for another, they both count to Londoners.â€
Ben Sprung 07500 067088