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Sunday 26th October 2014
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There Will Be Cuts to London's Fire Service

Brian Coleman.jpgDespite claims from the Mayor of London that the fire service will not be reducing front-line services the Chairman of London Fire Authority, Brian Coleman, has told LBC £60 million of savings will have to be made.

It had been reported that 27 engines could be taken out of service permanently as part of a review into if there was an over-supply in the capital.

Firefighters have been doing without the vehicles as crews brought in to cover recent strike action have been using them instead.

After being questioned on the issue by LBC Boris Johnson reassured Londoners that this was not the case during a speech at the London Assembly:

"I mentioned the matter to Brian [Coleman] and I am assured there are no plans for reductions in front-line services".

Speaking today to LBC's James O'Brien, Brian Coleman said that savings will have to be made somewhere:

"The truth is there are going to be £60 million pounds worth of cuts to the fire authority budget over the next four years, the details are still being worked out.

"When the Mayor presents his final budget to Londoners - which will be just before Christmas - Londoners will see the extent of cuts - or not - that have got to be made across the board in the services that City Hall provides."

He continued, "when you think that 85% of our budget is staff costs and costs of premises, it's not rocket science to deduce that there have got to be changes in service provision."

But Mr Coleman refused to be drawn on why the Mayor claimed there will be no front-line cuts and he is suggesting there could be, saying "the Mayor and I are at one on the budget discussions".

The cuts issue is different to the ongoing row with unions over shift patterns - which has led to two walkouts by firefighters and a planned strike over Bonfire weekend which was called off last minute.

"The cuts agenda is a separate agenda to do with the fire authority," Mr Coleman explained, "if anything the shift pattern dispute was about avoiding cuts, avoiding job losses and station closures by driving inefficiencies out of the service."

The dispute between London Fire Brigade and the Fire Brigades Union is over plans to increase the length of firefighters' day shifts and increase night shifts to make them more even.

An Independent Panel yesterday (November 22) recommended two options for shift pattern changes - one of which the FBU is provisionally recommending its members accept.

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