The Mayor of London’s cost cutting plan has backfired, as the cost of security at closed fire stations in Downham and Woolwich is expected to total £138,000.
It has been revealed by Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, that security costing £68,786 per station is required to ensure that squatters and arsonists do not enter the empty buildings.
The stations in south east London were closed in January under the Mayor of London’s Fifth London Safety Plan (FLSP).
The Mayor’s controversial plan saw London’s fire service slashed by ten stations resulting in 552 redundancies.
The station closures and staff cuts sparked a number of strikes last year, with a petition to save Downham from closure attracting 4,000 signatures.
Councillor Julia Fletcher, Liberal Democrat for Downham ward, said: “Downham fire station should never have closed. We were told the reason it and other stations across London had to go was to save money, yet now the taxpayer has to fork out £69,000 just to protect an empty building.”
A spokesperson for the London Fire Brigade said security may not be necessary if the stations sell before the end of 2015.
“The cost of security is a one off payment and is off set by the millions saved every year by closing these stations. Once closed, it was important to make sure the buildings were safe and secure in order to achieve resale and avoid squatting and other public nuisances.”
The FLSP was designed to maintain a level of coverage for the capital, with an initial response of six minutes, while saving the London Fire Brigade £45.4m over the next two years.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson went ahead with the plan despite opposition from The London Fire Authority and concerns that it would increase the initial response time.