December 6 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Boris Johnson told a London Assembly member to ‘get stuffed’ in a debate about fire cuts as he reacted angrily to continued heckling during Mayor’s Question Time.
The comment was quickly retracted, with the Mayor saying ‘it just popped out’, but he was clearly frustrated by several heated exchanges where he was called a liar.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union packed out the public gallery at City Hall this morning for the meeting, after earlier protesting outside against Mr Johnson’s plans, which will see 10 stations, 14 engines and more than 550 jobs axed.
But he became angry at their continued heckling every time he spoke, while criticism of his fire cuts were greeted with cheers and applause.
An animated Mr Johnson called several times on the chair of the meeting, Assembly Member Darren Johnson, to bring a stop to people shouting and interrupting him as he tried to answer questions, asking: “I take slight exception to being continually harangued by the public gallery every time I speak.
“Are you going to do something about it?”
The chairman said he would adjourn the meeting and have members of the public removed, but the Mayor was frustrated the heckling was allowed to continue throughout the debate on the fire proposals, which was only halted briefly at the end as protesters loudly left the chamber.
During the question and answer session he was asked if he would look at alternative plans for the London Fire Brigade, proposed by the Labour party.
He said: “In the end you’ve got to get on and administer.”
Assembly Member Fiona Twycross, who also sits on the fire authority, said there was nothing in Mr Johnson’s manifesto about cuts to fire cover, saying he had ‘no mandate for it’.
She called the plans a ‘short-sighted move’, and accused him of using ‘undemocratic moves’ to push them through.
The Mayor said Mrs Twycross was ‘recklessly scaremongering’, and said the number of fire deaths in London was coming down during his term of office.
But another Labour Assembly Member, Andrew Dismore, said Boris Johnson had ‘lied to the people of London on these cuts’.
An increasingly angry Mayor repeated that the figures for deaths and serious incidents from fire were falling, but when Mr Dismore repeated his claim he had lied to voters he said: “Oh get stuffed.”
Asked to retract the comment by the chair the Mayor immediately apologised, saying: “I apologise, I’m sorry. It just popped out, I’m very sorry.”
But he again became angry when asked by John Biggs AM whether he thought London had ‘too many’ fire engines, responding: “Blind attachment to keeping things the way they are is not constructive.
“Its not the way forward in a modern, progressive city when there might be other ways of tackling fire safety.”
And at the end of discussion he said: “This is a very emotive issue, and I want Londoners to know this is not a decision I have taken easily or lightly.
“I have been over it again and again.
“I would only be doing this if I though it was a credible and defensible way of improving fire cover in this city.
“It is very easy to inculpate me for any subsequent disasters that happen, and that is the price we pay as decision-makers.”
A 41-year-old man has been stabbed at an address in Harold Hill.