Fire cuts – public will support strike action

Pete Dickenson

Response times for fire engines in Bow East and Bow West wards in Tower Hamlets, east London, will nearly double if Bow Fire Station is closed.

A civil servant, the Deputy Fire Commissioner, admitted this at a meeting on the closure packed with 130 local residents.

She was sent to take the flak by Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson, responsible for the fire service.

These times will exceed the guidelines laid down by the Fire Service. Johnson’s cuts would cost lives.

A local resident, Frank, said: “They could find money for the Olympics but they say there’s no money for this…

“You said this meeting was the heart of Bow. Well, if the firefighters have to go on strike the heart of Bow will support them.”

A representative of London FBU told the meeting that his union is actively fighting closure and the loss of a fire engine at Whitechapel fire station.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters and Socialist Party members pledged full backing to the campaign.

They said that if local residents organised an occupation of the Bow Station, they would get massive support from the community.

And if Tower Hamlets councillors and its mayor, Lutfur Rahman, did not fight these and other cuts, including the bedroom tax, TUSC will stand candidates against them in next year’s election. These comments got a good response from the audience.

The meeting unanimously opposed the Bow closure. Two days later the FBU organised a march from Tower Hamlets to City Hall, where Johnson hangs out, to ram home the message.