Clapham Fire Station closure: Boris Johnson heckled by members of audience at Mayor’s Questions


People are angry that the closures will lead to increased response times.


By Oli Rahman

Boris Johnson suffered a battering at Mayor’s Questions today where he fielded questions from assembly members over fire station cuts and was repeatedly heckled by members of the fire services.

Concerns were expressed about the increased response times and cuts in boroughs such as Southwark, which will lose a third of its fire-fighters and a fire station.

“At what point will Boris listen?” asked Brent and Harrow member Navin Shah, as the Mayor repeatedly tried to avoid his questions.

“Residents have rejected fire station closures. I have not met a single resident who has said that any good will come of this plan,” he added.

Boris fought back by accusing assembly members of not attending the previous meeting, despite the presence of firefighters and protest groups.

When asked if he would reverse the cuts, he said: “I am not making any promises now. I cannot guarantee that there will be radical changes to this fire station plan.

“We will ensure that the London Fire Brigade has the resources they need to continue to do the same superb job.”

Jennette Arnold (Labour), who represents North East Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest, said there is a clear link between poverty and the number of fires in an area, and that she fears for the safety of her constituents.

“I have 5000 petitions here. I have never seen people queue to put their names on a sheet,” she said.

She accused the Mayor of favoring residents of wealthier boroughs such as Richmond, where response times will only increase by seconds as opposed to minutes.

He responded by saying her remarks were “personal attacks” on his character, and that she was “playing politics”.

Halfway through the session fire service staff in the galleries stood up and started chanting “No ifs, no buts, no fire service cuts!”

Simon Chapman, who works for Southwark Fire Service, said: “Boris hasn’t been coming to the fire service meetings. They’re making cuts not because it’s safer, but because they want to save money.

“The fact is that 4.7 million people in London will see a slower response time. That’s an awfully long time if you’re in a burning building.”

Follow us @SW_Londoner

Related Articles