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Woolwich and Downham fire stations to close after failed High Court legal bid
WOOLWICH and Downham fire stations are set to close after a High Court legal battle against the Mayor of London’s “reckless” cost-cutting plans failed.
Seven councils including Lewisham and Greenwich lost their legal challenge at the High Court against the Mayor of London’s plans to axe 10 fire stations as well as the loss of 14 fire appliances and 552 firefighter posts.
The stations are due to close on January 9 and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is considering any rights to appeal the High Court’s decision which was revealed today (December 20).
The councils argued the plan did not take into account fire risk factors in densely-populated inner London which has more disadvantaged residents at greater risk from fire.
They also argued the consultation process into the Fifth London Safety Plan was unlawful, the Equalities Act was breached as well as stressing the impact on public safety.
Greenwich Council's cabinet member for community safety and environment Cllr Maureen O’Mara said: "We have fought as hard as possible to save Woolwich fire station, and are extremely disappointed with today's result.
“Far more disappointing is that the cuts will now go ahead, and Woolwich – together with other fire stations across London - will soon be lost forever.
“As we argued in court, our concern is that these cuts will make residents less safe, and there will be longer response times in serious incidents."
While Councillor Alan Hall, on behalf of Lewisham Labour Group on Lewisham Council, added: "As we have said all along, the cuts to the fire service will make Lewisham less safe and it is hugely disappointing as the first duty of the Mayor of London is to keep London safe."
FBU London secretary Paul Embery urged the Mayor to reconsider the plans which could leave "blood on his hands".
He said: “The Apollo Theatre collapse demonstrates how dependent the safety of Londoners is on the stations that Boris Johnson intends to close.
“If the cuts go ahead, the mayor will end up with blood on his hands.
““These cuts are reckless, wrong and will jeopardise the safety of millions of Londoners: it will only be a matter of time before someone dies as a result of a fire engine failing to reach them in time.
“Although campaigners lost the legal case, we won the moral argument, and even at this late stage, we would urge the Mayor to reconsider.”
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