The Independent London Newspaper
19th January 2017

NEW JOURNAL COMMENT: Mayor Khan’s promising start to restoring fire cover

    Choi Yip (right) with his neighbour Karl Kosmo

    Choi Yip (right) with his neighbour Karl Kosmo

    Published: 8 September, 2016

    THE review of fire cover in London is welcome news although it comes to late to save the life of Choi Yip.

    The review, announced by Sadiq Khan this week, should be seen as a test of whether the new administration at City Hall has any teeth.

    Mr Khan – a former fire minister during the last Labour government – made the announcement of a review into fire service cuts by his predecessor, Boris Johnson, to this newspaper. 

    It was our campaign that raised serious concerns about cuts to the fire service in Camden, and the closure and sale of Belsize Fire Station, long before the tragedy in Camden Road. 

    Mr Khan’s pledge, of course, was made during an election run, a time when politicians are willing to promise the earth to win a few votes. But without the pressure that comes from consistent and campaigning journalism, politicians are rarely held to account. And the early signs that the new Mayor will stay true to his word are encouraging. 

    Here is a chance for Mr Khan to show he is willing to undo the wrongs of his predecessor. Boris Johnson, who closed down Belsize and Clerkenwell fire stations and took several engines out of action.

    Clearly, it is too late to reopen any fire stations – Belsize Fire Station is due to be turned into flats. It is not too late to bring fire engines and firefighters back into service.

    A good start would be to bring the 13 fire engines that are only used in the event of a strike back into use full time. 

    The switch to monitoring target times London-wide, rather than by borough, should also be scrapped. 

    Let’s hope Mr Khan does us all a favour and brings back the axed firefighters, and gives them the equipment and the tools to fight fires. London will be a much safer place. 

    Labour’s cold ‘compliance’

    IT is not too far-fetched to point out that, in effect, a purge is taking place in the Labour Party of, principally, supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

    It is concealed as a legitimate investigation in to acts that bring the party into disrepute. But it is gathering pace at such speed, accompanied by the suspension of members, that it can no longer be regarded in such an innocent manner.

    It can be argued that it is becoming the equivalent of a McCarthyite witch-hunt with tell-tale messages being sent to the party’s HQ in Newcastle by members who want to settle scores with old time adversaries.

    The very title of the department used to sift through the complaints – the Compliance Unit – reeks of an inquisition.