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Pickles urged to block London fire closures

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Eight London boroughs have asked communities secretary Eric Pickles to overturn fire service closures planned by London mayor Boris Johnson.  

Under Mr Johnson’s plans, 10 fire stations will be closed. Fourteen fire engines and 552 operational posts will also be lost.

The eight London boroughs - Camden, Greenwich, Hackney, Islington, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest – have called on Mr Pickles to force the mayor to revoke the plans. The secretary of state could do so using a power to direct the mayor.

The councils say they are poised to seek a judicial review of the mayor’s decision if Mr Pickles does not block the plans.

Islington LBC is leading the application. Its executive member for community safety Paul Convery (Lab) said: “We believe the mayor’s decision is flawed and [we] will do everything in our power to stop these fire stations from closing, and to stop fire engines from being lost.”

In response Mr Johnson said his plans would “ensure that more boroughs across the city are brought within the fire brigade’s target response times”.

He said: “We need to move forward to face the challenges of  21st century fire-fighting, and it is vital we ensure that London’s fire service is financially stable. I trust the professional judgement of the fire commissioner, a fire-fighter with over 20 years of experience, who has proposed this plan to ensure a balanced budget and avoid compulsory redundancies, whilst keeping London safe.”

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