Published on March 4, 2014 | by Lydia Batham

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Protests as 10 Fire Stations in London Close

There were protests outside the 10 fire stations that closed  in London this morning.

Southwark Fire Station is one of the stations that closed and the crew were joined by members of the public and politicians. They included London Assembly member’s Stephen Knight and Valerie Shawcross, who got emotional when telling us “it’s a sad, historic moment.  Fire-fighters at this site have served this community for 136 years, and I think it’s really sad”.

“it’s a sad, historic moment.  Fire-fighters at this site have served this community for 136 years, and I think it’s really sad”. 

Valerie Shawcross

At 9.30am the doors of Southwark Fire Station closed and the crew of the Green Watch took their final roll call in private. After, tears were shed as Borough Commander for Southwark, Andy Snows told those gathered “this is it”.

The London Fire Brigade have reassured residents that response times will remain one of the fastest in the world at 6 minutes and 1 second.  Andy Snows told us that the fire service is a “can do” organisation, and will do all they can to make sure the people of London stay safe.

The staff at Southwark will be absorbed into other London Stations, but for Labour Candidate Neil Coyle, the loss of Southwark, which is the closest station to the tallest building in Britain – The Shard, could mean “blood on Boris’s hands”. He said he’ll campaign for the reopening of a station in Southwark.

So what has gone today?

  • 10 Fire Stations – Belsize, Bow, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown,  Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich.
  • 550 jobs
  • 14 Fire Engines

The History of the Closures
 The decision was finalised back in September 2013 a part of the Fifth London Safety Plan by The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA).
Labour LFEPA members sought legal advice to challenge the Mayors decision, but were told there 'was no legal basis'.
The vote was tied with 8 for and 8 against, but James Cleverly, the Conservative chairman of the fire authority and London Assembly Member, used his casting vote to get the plans through.
7 London councils then  lost a legal battle over the closures in Decemeber 2013. They argued the closures were "legally flawed" and "could put lives at risk".  But Mr Justice Foskett, sitting at London's High Court said the process for agreeing the closures was lawful saying, "I appreciate that the outcome will come as a disappointment to a number of people who had hoped to see the proposed changes to the provision of fire services in their area set aside."

What will happen to the stations now?

  •  All signage will be removed.
  • Sites will be kept water and weather tight and have 24/7 security to prevent squatting and vandalism.
  • They will be  sold over the next 6 months to 3 years – depending on the need for planning permission.
  • Sales will happen as quickly as possible to reduce maintenance costs – they hope by May 2014.
  • Sales of the sites is expected to earn £50.5 million.
  • It’s estimated costs and fees of the sales will add up to around £463.5 thousand.
  • Southwark Fire Station  also houses the Southwark Training Centre (STC),which will be moved in March 2015, at which point the entire site will be sold.
  • It also currently houses a museum, which is likely to be moved, potentially to one of the other stations that closed today.
  • Sites may be used to serve other purposes including housing and free schools.

You can read the full report by The London Fire Brigades Resources Committee here

Watch the Fire Engine leaves Southwark Fire Station for the final time below:



 

Listen to the Radio story here:

[soundcloud params=”auto_play=true&show_comments=true&color=0ac4ff”]https://soundcloud.com/lydiabatham/firestations-pkg-1[/soundcloud]

 

 

 

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