I am writing to seek your views on an issue which has major implications for the safety and security of Londoners. On March 4 2013 the Mayor of London announced the details of a three month public consultation on his proposals to save £45million over two years by closing 12 fire stations across London and cutting 520 jobs.
One of the 12 fire stations threatened with closure is Clapham. Clapham fire station currently serves an area which covers Lambeth and Wandsworth including the site of your new embassy in Nine Elms.
As you will be aware Nine Elms is undergoing a major investment that will see 16,000 new homes and 25,000 new jobs created in the surrounding area. We expected that given the increasing numbers of people living and working in Nine Elms, and the obvious security and safety needs of your new Embassy, the Mayor and his fire authority would have increased the level of fire cover in Nine Elms. However despite the clear need for additional resources to be deployed in this area, which is seeing such rapid expansion and development, the Mayor is actually proposing to reduce the levels of fire cover.
According to the London Fire Authority, the closure of Clapham fire station would see response times increase. We believe that this can only make communities and businesses in Lambeth and Wandsworth less safe. The Fire Authority’s figures show that response times would increase, by an average of 36 seconds for the first fire engine, and 43 seconds for the second fire engine, to arrive at incidents.
To see the value of Clapham fire station you only need to consider their role in the recent fatal helicopter crash in Vauxhall in January this year. Fire crews from Clapham were among the first on the scene following the helicopter crash. There was widespread praise for their work at the scene of the crash and it is clear they undoubtedly saved lives and protected the public from harm in difficult conditions. Clearly it is impossible to predict when major incidents will occur in the future. That’s why I believe we must ensure that our emergency services must always able to respond quickly and effectively to any emergency they are called to.
I fear the closure of Clapham fire station would threaten the safety of everyone who lives and works in Nine Elms.
The end of the Mayor’s consultation into the future of London’s fire services is 28 May 2013. I would be very grateful if you could indicate whether you were willing to raise this issue of concern with the Mayor.
Cllr Lib Peck
Leader, London Borough of Lambeth