Mayor of London’s Fire Cuts taken to Court

The legal challenge to Boris Johnson’s fire station cuts began at the High Court today. Lewisham has joined with six other affected councils to contest the closure of 10 fire stations across London. The proposals, published in the Fifth London Safety Plan earlier this year, included plans to close Downham Fire Station and reduce the number of fire-fighters in the borough.

Our argument is that the plan does not take into account fire risk factors in inner London, which is more densely populated, has more deprived and disadvantaged residents who are at greater risk from fire, and where fire responses are often more complex.

We also argue that the plan would have an impact on public safety, that the Equalities Act was breached, and that the consultation process was unlawful.

We are determined to do what we can to protect our communities and that is why we have taken this legal action. I believe the cuts to the fire service will put the safety of our residents at risk.

The hearing continues until Thursday 28 November.   

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Lewisham’s Building Schools for the Future Programme

Since I became Mayor one of my main priorities has been to modernise school facilities across the Borough.

In the last ten years more than £300m – a combination of central government and council money – has been spent on rebuilding or refurbishing 20 of the borough’s schools, with a further two brand new schools being built. 13 of these school building/rebuilding projects were funded through the Labour Government’s Building Schools for the Future programme, which was scandalously scrapped by Michael Gove.

The Building Schools for the Future has had a massive impact on schools in Lewisham. To mark the success of the programme, the council has produced the video below. It’s worth watching in full. 

Councils must be given powers to block betting shops

Breathtaking hypocrisy from the Tories in relation to betting shops. The efforts of Lewisham and other councils to halt the proliferation of betting shops on our high streets have received no real help from the Government, but we felt they were at least they making sympathetic noises. Now we know the truth – they are on the side of the bookmakers.

An article in today’s Guardian reveals that Nick Boles, the Conservative Planning Minister, wrote to Ladbrokes assuring them that attempts by councils to block the spread of betting shops would be frustrated by his proposed changes to planning laws.

Its worth reading the whole article as it reveals that Ladbrokes are using a “Big Lie” tactic to claim that our concerns are just on religious and moral grounds. This could not be further from the truth. Bookmakers are opening more and more betting shops in the poorest parts of the country because it lets them have more and more gambling machines available through which they can exploit vulnerable people. We must give councils the powers to stop this and the pay day loan sharks too.