October 1 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, August 28, 2014
A fire engine “temporarily” removed from Romford fire station to deal with strike action still hasn’t been returned - more than a year on.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) bosses stripped the appliance from the Pettits Lane North station - one of four in the borough - in August as part of a contingency plan to provide cover during an impending strike by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) over firefighters’ pensions.
The removal of the engine was one of 27 across the capital, and left Havering with one per station.
A spokesman for the LFB said the appliance hadn’t been returned because FBU industrial action has been continuing.
Since the first strike in September 2013, firefighters have embarked on a series of walk-outs, including eight consecutive days of action as recently as July.
But FBU worker and former Hornchurch firefighter Joe MacVeigh said members of the public had been short-changed by the lengthy absence of Romford’s second engine.
“For a year, people have been paying their council tax for two fire engines but getting one,” he said.
LFB would not comment on the whereabouts of the borrowed vehicle, but London fire commissioner Ron Dobson has previously explained his organisation has a “legal responsibility” to prepare ahead of firefighter strike action.
“This is not a decision I have taken lightly,” he said last August when the original decision was made.
“But I need to ensure contingency plans are in place, which is why I’ve arranged for the temporary removal of 27 fire engines.”
Members of the FBU are striking as part of a bitter dispute with the government over changes to the pensions.
The reforms raise the retirement age for firefighters from 55 to 60, which the union has called “unacceptable, unworkable and unrealistic”.
The government has said further strike action is “only counter-productive”.