In his budget this year, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London made some quite savage cuts to our emergency services so that he could give us a council tax reduction of £3.10 per year, that’s less than 6p per week.
So what have you brought with your extra 6p per week? Because it has already cost you a considerable amount in front line cuts to the Police and Fire Services.
The Police Safer Neighbourhood teams that have helped protect us with local policing, accountable to residents, and able to benefit from local intelligence gathering, is about to be decimated with a massive reduction in police resources.
On top of this the Fire brigade is also about to undergo massive reductions in both fire fighters and fire engines. The public consultation on proposals to close fire stations and remove fire engines has recently ended, but if the proposed plans go ahead we will see one fire engine and 20 fire fighters removed from Hayes fire station.
The fire brigade’s target response time is 6 minutes for the first appliance to attend. In Hillingdon we are already beyond this with an average response time of 6 minutes and 13 seconds. As we all know, once a fire starts, it takes a matter of seconds to take hold and rage through a property. So it literally is a case where every second counts. The reduction of one fire engine and 20 fire fighters from Hayes, will result in an additional delay of 3 seconds, taking the average response time up, to 6 minutes & 16 seconds.
The proposed cuts to the fire brigade are being justified on figures that show a reduction of domestic fires in the last 10 years, and with new buildings being more fire resistant than older buildings the thinking is that the incidences of domestic fires will reduce even further.
However this does not take account of the fact that Hayes is one of the most densely populated areas of the borough which is now seeing more shared accommodation, as a result of benefit changes, and as there are more fire risks associated with shared accommodation perhaps they should be planning for the future rather than the past.
I believe that the best value anyone can get from 6p per week is the protection of our Police and Fire services. Obviously Boris does not share this view.