“Unfounded, sensationalised scare story”? Campaign to ‘save’ Kingsland fire station hots up

The campaign to save Kingsland fire station is hotting up, despite fire chiefs warning people not to believe “unfounded, sensationalised scare stories” about individual stations.

It was one of 17 stations earmarked for closure on a list leaked on social networking site Twitter by investigative journalist Adam Bienkov last month.

At the time, Boris’s fire chief James Cleverly said the list was not definitive, but “one of a large number of options” as the London Fire Brigade looks to save money.

The station at the junction of Kingsland Road with Downham Road in Haggerston, is one of four stations in Hackney.

Meanwhile two of Islington’s three stations are on the list – Upper Street and Old Street, as well as Whitechapel in Tower Hamlets.

Assembly Member for North East London losing all these stations would leave a “massive hole” in north and east London’s fire service, and vowed to fight the plans “tooth and nail”.

She has now joined forces with MP Meg Hillier MP and Hackney’s elected Mayor Jules Pipe, and other Hackney councillors, campaigners and residents.

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They want as many people as possible to sign a petition ahead of any decision being taken, to ensure the station remains.

Incidents in Hackney are 35 per cent higher than the London borough average of 3,328, and campaigners claim the closure of the fire station would increase response times and put residents’ lives at risk.

In the last year the fire brigade in Hackney attended around 4,500 incidents, and Kingsland Road responded to 16 per cent of these.

“At a time when Hackney’s population is growing fast and more and more of us are living in high-rise blocks, cutting fire services in the borough is short-sighted and dangerous,” said Chair of Hackney Lib Dems, Simon de Deney.

But London Fire Brigade Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said they need to make savings like all other public services, but said the full extent of those savings will not be known until next month.

“It is important that the debate about the future of London’s fire service is based upon facts about the actual amount of savings the Brigade needs to make and the proposals that will be published once this is known,” he said.

“Ongoing reports of individual stations closing are nothing but unfounded, sensationalised scare stories.

“Having spent 33 years as a fire fighter serving the capital during events including the bombing of Canary Wharf, the July 7 terrorist attacks and last summer’s civil disturbances, I will not propose anything that would put the lives of Londoners or fire fighters at risk.”

To sign the Lib Dem’s petition go to http://www.ourcampaign.org.uk/KingslandFireStation, and to sign Labour’s petition go to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-kingsland-fire-station/