TWO London fire stations are facing closure in January after controversial cuts to the front line fire service have been voted in.
The draft fifth London Safety Plan (LSP5) has been approved which will see Knightsbridge and Westminster fire stations close on Thursday, January 9 2014.
Chelsea Fire Station is to have its Fire Rescue Unit crews reduced as well as over half of Clapham's fire engines cut leaving the two fire engines in Chelsea to cover the area between Soho and Fulham.
The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) argues this will have a major impact in the standard of fire cover within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, with worst affected said to be Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Belgravia, Pimlico as well as parts of Chelsea.
FBU representative Jason King said: "The Queen is to lose the two local fire stations that have served her all her life and the area for over a hundred years.
"We at Knightsbridge are obviously all devastated by the news, not only on a personal level but also for our community; a community that many of our firefighters have dedicated their whole careers to.
"We, the firefighters of the RBKC, are shocked and dismayed by the arrogance of a Mayor who can one week demand the upgrading of transport infrastructure to cope with the increase in London's population and the following week tell Londoners that we are currently being pampered by the amount of fire cover they currently receive.
"These cuts lie squarely at the feet of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. It is clear that he does not have to make any cuts to the frontline emergency services in London, and a fully costed alternative has been presented to the LFEPA. These are massive cuts and will certainly affect local peoples lives and safety."
London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority voted to approve the cuts to meet budget savings of £45 million over the next two years and the measures in the Plan, which set out how the Brigade will work over the next three years, will meet £29 million of those savings.
At a meeting of Authority members on Thursday September 12, Chairman James Cleverly used his casting vote to ‘approve the final version of the fifth London Safety Plan’ after eight members voted for the proposals, eight voted against and one member abstained.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP for Chelsea said: "It is always a matter of concern to see a fire station close. However, I have received assurances from the Chief Firemaster that response times will not be significantly affected in this case and that is very reassuring."
RBKC Council have voted unanimously to reject the cuts.