Police and fire services braced for cuts after Mayor’s budget is passed
12:17 25 February 2013
Boris Johnson’s controversial plans to shut 12 fire stations and close dozens of police stations will go ahead, after his budget was approved.
Opposition members on the London Assembly failed to muster the two-thirds majority necessary to vote for a joint amendment to his financial plans for 2013/14.
Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party members had proposed a reversal of the Mayor’s 7p a week cut in his share of council tax - suggesting a freeze of the current rate, with the £9.4 million freed up spent on preserving the police and fire estates.
And Mr Johnson escaped a grilling after they voted to debate their amendments - with the absence of Conservative member Victoria Borwick offering a glimmer of hope that they would be able to vote on the budget straight away. However, she appeared almost immediately.
This morning’s well attended proceedings at City Hall were also met by repeated heckles from members of the London Fire Brigades Union.
One man was ejected at the start to applause after shouting: “The people know the truth. the game is up. Ordinary people have suffered with the decisions that this man has made.”
Mr Johnson was subsequently slapped down by London Assembly chairman Jennette Arnold after asking others if they wanted to interject, before he himself was invited to leave, not before labelling members “supine, inverterate jellies.”
In the ensuing debate, Labour member Val Shawcross said the cuts came at the worst time because London was facing a “tsunami of poverty” because of upcoming cuts to housing benefit.
She said: “The Mayor is going to make massive cuts to essential emergency services in this city. These are more vital in a recession.
“The safer neighbourhood teams are going to be burned back down to two officers per ward.
“We could save those fire stations because when they are gone, we won’t get them back. All we have to do is vote through those amendments.”
Darren Johnson, of the Green Party, also attracted applause from some in the public gallery after he attacked the council tax cut as ‘trivial”, but Conservative member Andrew Boff rounded on the opposition for voting not to question the Mayor.
Referring to the amendment, he said: “I’m absolutely ashamed that members have come up with an absolute lie that could have been designed by one of our very good primary schools.”
But Ms Shawcross later fire back and said there had been “no smoke and mirrors” in their costed proposals.