During parliamentary question time to the Department of Communities and Local Government, Rushanara Ali MP demanded that ministers give straight answers on their plans to privatise fire and rescue services.
The Fire Minister had earlier denied any such plans, but Rushanara told the House of Commons: “The fire service Minister has written to the Chair of the House of Commons Regulatory Reform Committee outlining plans that could lead to 112 fire stations across Greater London being run by a private company. Why is he planning to take such risks? I do not agree that there is no plan.”
With recent reports revealing significant costs to the taxpayer as a result of private contractors failing to meet performance requirements in their management of London’s fire engines, Rushanara pressed ministers on their plans and urged them to clarify whether similar cases could arise in future.
She said: “We know already that companies such as AssetCo have cost taxpayers millions of pounds. Will he give a straight answer?”
Following the session, Rushanara said: “Fire services should always be about saving lives and keeping communities safe. Yet the Mayor of London is consulting on the closure of Bow fire station and halving the number of engines at Whitechapel whilst ministers are refusing to give clear answers on whether services will be privatised. This is deeply irresponsible as it poses a real threat to our frontline services and runs the risk of wasting taxpayers’ money.”
The full text from Department and Communities Local Government Questions on Monday 18th March can be found here: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130318/debtext/130318-0001.htm