Uniting workers and communities in the London Borough of Camden
I am sorry to tell you that the Judicial review has not been successful. The Judgement has been handed down in the High Court
We have had a couple of days to consider the draft judgement and have consulted with our leading Counsel, Dan Stillitz QC who advises there is “no obvious, clear-cut ground of appeal”. Pursuing this further would also require the Court of Appeal to sit during the Xmas holiday and might not be favourably disposed to doing that.
In the circumstances, the legal advice is that we do not apply for leave to appeal.
I have read the draft judgement now and Counsel is quite right. The judge has found strongly in favour of the Mayor, Fire Commissioner and Authority and there are no obvious howlers which would justify further appeal. We had a very strong case and a more open-minded judge might well have found in our favour.
However, the judge gave considerable weight to the Fire Commissioner’s evidence and concluded that ‘relevant considerations were taken into account (in particular, all relevant risks) essentially because the Commissioner said that they were. He concluded that the National Framework was complied with (as evidenced by the fact that the Secretary of State failed to intervene), that it was rational to treat manifestly unlike boroughs alike, that the consultation was fair (even though the fatality issue was poorly handled) and that the equality impact assessment was lawful (although its phraseology was difficult and somewhat obtuse).
So, whilst legal argument did not win the day I believe the moral case was overwhelming. The 7 Boroughs fought as hard as possible to prevent closure of our fire Stations and there is nothing more we could have done.
I remain deeply concerned that these cuts will make many of our residents less safe, and there will be longer response times for many of our communities in serious incidents.
The Mayor should have listened to 94% of Londoners who said “no”. Our residents will be at greater risk of fire accident In Islington many areas can no longer guarantee to be within 6 minutes of a fire engine if accidents happen .”
I know that everyone involved in the campaign will be very disappointed that the cuts will now go ahead, and 10 Fire Stations including Clerkenwell, and the protection they provide, will soon be lost forever.
FROM THE FBU
Three of the eight fire stations (Knightsbridge, Southwark and Westminster) that attended the collapse at the Apollo Theatre last night will close in less than three weeks under the Mayor of London’s cuts programme, after the failure of a challenge taken to the High Court by campaigners.
Reacting to the court’s decision, Fire Brigades Union London secretary, Paul Embery, said:
“The Apollo Theatre collapse demonstrates how dependent the safety of Londoners is on the stations that Boris Johnson intends to close.
“If the cuts go ahead, the mayor will end up with blood on his hands.
“These cuts are reckless, wrong and will jeopardise the safety of millions of Londoners: it will only be a matter of time before someone dies as a result of a fire engine failing to reach them in time.
“Although campaigners lost the legal case, we won the moral argument, and even at this late stage, we would urge the Mayor to reconsider.”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wants to close 10 fire stations and slash around 600 frontline firefighter posts.
The High Court case was brought by seven local authorities, who argued that the cuts were dangerous, irrational and unlawful.
The Fire Brigades Union was an ‘interested party’ in the case and argues that the cuts will lead to delayed response times for four million Londoners.
94% of Londoners opposed the cuts in a public consultation exercise, as did the London Assembly and, until forced to comply, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), which governs fire and rescue services in the capital.
The ten stations are scheduled to close on 9 January 2014.
The FBU is considering any rights to appeal the High Court’s decision.