TUSC candidate intervenes in Evening Standard mayoral candidate election debate
April 11th saw the Evening Standard mayoral election debate take place in the centre of London which was chaired by Clive Anderson, who had earlier that day said that he would like to see a cat fight between the candidates at the event.
Whilst there was no real cat fight between the candidates other than a heated debate on the issue of personal taxes, the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) London Region Executive Council Member and Trade Union Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate for the GLA elections Ian Leahair, was able to intervene on the question of policing when he raised the issue of budget raiding and privatisation in the Fire Service, accusing the current Mayor Boris Johnson of robbing the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) reserves to the sum of £50m over the last two years to increase police numbers short term which may lead to a worse fire service and raise issues of public safety post the Olympics.
Cuts to fire service budgets, Firefighter numbers, fire engines or fire stations will surely impact on public safety. This is especially pertinent at a time when the London Fire Brigade (LFB) are facing back ended cuts of up to 25% after the Olympics, cuts that could have been either avoided or kept to a minimum with the retention of the £50m that was taken from LFEPA reserves by the Mayor Boris Johnson to raise police numbers for the Olympics, an increase that is nothing more than an election gimmick for the current Mayor.
The recent financial fiasco of Asset Co, the company that currently supplies and maintains the entire fleet of fire appliances and equipment for the LFB, and the fact that the current Conservative controlled fire authority overseen by the current Mayor has also outsourced both the training arm and control function to private companies in the wake of the Asset Co fiasco, prompted Ian Leahair to call on all Mayoral candidates to commit to retain the Fire Service and its support functions in the public sector, a commitment that whilst already given by the Labour candidate Ken Livingstone, Jenny Jones from the Green party said it was madness to privatise any part of the fire service, while Brian Paddick simply commented that rather than raiding fire service finances they should remove police officers perks.
Ian was also able to interrupt the Mayor when he responded that the brigade had not suffered as a result of Mayor robbing the reserves. However that interruption is difficult to hear on the evening standard video tape http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/mayor/video-evening-standard-mayoral-election-debate-in-full-7639326.html but you can hear and see Ian raise the issue at 1:01:59 in the above link.