BORIS Johnson has taken the unprecedented step of issuing a mayoral directive to consult on 12 fire station closures in London - including New Cross, Downham and Woolwich.

Last week, fire chiefs at the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority rejected the money-saving proposals - which would also see 520 jobs axed.

But Mr Johnson has decided to use his mayoral powers to go ahead with the consultation anyway.

The Mayor of London said: "There have been some outrageous claims that the Fire Commissioner and I would put lives of Londoners at risk, so I have directed the plans to go for consultation as planned because the option presented by the authority is unfit for purpose and unsustainable in budget terms.

"It is essential that the London Fire Brigade continues to modernise so that it can remain one of the world's leading rescue services and is equipped to respond to 21st century fire fighting needs.

"It's right that tough decisions have to be made in times of economic uncertainty."

Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Stephen Knight said: "This is a sad day for democracy and an even sadder day for the safety of Londoners.  

"However much the mayor attempts to spin this issue the reality is that he alone is forcing through the closure of 12 London fire stations and increasing response times for far too many Londoners.

"The mayor has immense financial freedom and could easily decide to provide the modest extra funding needed to ensure that no fire stations would have to close."


The news comes after Mr Johnson refused to back the fight to save Lewisham Hospital's A&E this morning.

When asked about the issue at City Hall, he replied that the administrators had made a "powerful argument" to shut the A&E.

He said: "It would be inappropriate for me, wrong for me, to do what you want me to do in respect of Lewisham A&E"

Green London Assembly Member and Lewisham councillor Darren Johnson hit out at the mayor's comments.

He said: "The mayor was very clear in his opposition to hospital closures back in 2008, but he is now refusing to stand up against the crazy proposal to close Lewisham A&E.

"He has failed to get any of the reassurances he sought regarding the plans to cut services at Lewisham and seems blind to the negative impact on things like waiting times, blue light response times and travel times."