Fire brigade pours cold water on Redbridge residents’ safety concerns over cuts plan

An Ilford woman told fire bosses she was worried for her family and “everyone in Redbridge” if plans to close fire stations across London go ahead.

Deborah Marlow was speaking at last night’s consultation meeting for the new London Safety Plan.

Residents, firefighters and councillors gathered at Redbridge Town Hall, in High Road, Ilford to have their say on the future of emergency cover.

No Redbridge stations will be closed but nearby stations in Waltham Forest could lose fire engines.

Around 520 firefighter posts would be cut and 18 fire engines removed across London.

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Mrs Marlow said: “The cuts in Waltham Forest are inevitably going to have an impact and I don’t think anyone can predict what will happen.

She added: “I have three daughters and I’m worried about them – I’m worried about every family in Redbridge and all over London.

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“There’s so many ways you can reduce spending, I just think this is an appalling risk that the local community shouldn’t have to face.”

Fire brigade assistant commissioner Dave Brown emphasised that the number of fires has fallen dramatically in recent years and firefighters will be stepping up prevention work and safety education.

But he looked uncomfortable when a member of the public asked whether the “Safety Plan” would make residents safer.

“No, but they won’t be any worse off,” he said.

The sweeping changes come after the brigade was advised to make £45.4million of savings over the next two years following funding cuts from the government and Mayor of London.

Labour assembly member Fiona Twycross, who sits on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), argued the brigade had already taken its “fair share” of cuts.

She told the meeting: “The increases in average response times seem small but it’s important because seconds count in a fire.”

But Conservative councillor Susan Hall, who also sits on the LFEPA, supported the plans.

She said: “Fires have gone down by 50 per cent in the last 10 years so cutting the front line by 10 per cent is absolutely acceptable.”

The consultation is open at until June 17.

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