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Councils urge Eric Pickles to stop Woolwich and Downham fire station closures
LEWISHAM and Greenwich councils have teamed with six other London councils in a last-ditch attempt to halt the Mayor of London’s “dangerous” plans for the capital’s fire service.
They have written to the secretary of state for communities and local government urging him to overrule Boris Johnson’s decision to axe 10 fire stations – including Woolwich and Downham – as well as cutting 552 jobs and 14 fire engines.
The councils argue the Mayor’s decision threatens public safety by ignoring fire risks including potential terrorist targets, social and student housing, high-rise buildings and prisons in the affected boroughs.
Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock said: "It is vitally important that London’s councils stand together on an issue like this that affects the safety of all Londoners.
"The cuts proposed have a particular impact on the people of Downham but will make all Londoners less safe.
“Muddled thinking and flawed analysis have produced these dangerous proposals.
"They should be over-turned immediately.”
Greenwich and Lewisham have joined Camden, Hackney, Islington, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest councils in appealing to Eric Pickles and the councils will consider a judicial review if unsuccessful.
The councils have also asked the secretary of state to exercise his power to overturn the Mayor’s decision on the grounds it is inconsistent with national fire and rescue priorities.
Protesters have raised fears the plans disproportionately hit deprived wards like Downham and Woolwich Riverside – which ranks fourth out of 624 London wards for primary fires.
While Plumstead fire station is the second busiest in the capital and Greenwich Council has warned it will be severely stretched with the extra demand covering Woolwich.
Deputy Leader of Greenwich Council Councillor Peter Brooks said: “Greenwich Council shares the views of local people that these cuts will make many of our residents less safe.”
More than 4,000 residents signed a petition against the closure of Downham’s station in Reigate Road which was handed in to City Hall by the Lib Dems in January.
Lib Dem councillor for Downham ward Councillor Julia Fletcher said: “We are very pleased that Lewisham has joined the legal action against the proposed closure of Downham fire station and nine others.
“The London Fire Brigade must look at other options to save money so that current response times to deprived areas like Downham and Woolwich can be maintained.”
The Mayor announced his decision earlier this month following a consultation process where plans to close New Cross and Clapham stations were scrapped.
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