Emily Thornberry Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury
Last week I, along with Catherine West, local councillors, fire-fighters and concerned residents of Islington, attempted to deliver a 3000 signature petition to Boris Johnson, Conservative Mayor of London, as he proposed his budget. The petition, which thousands of you signed, called on him to stop the closure of Clerkenwell Fire Station.
I was completely shocked and disappointed at the Mayor’s behaviour throughout the budget meeting. When we arrived the Mayor refused to accept our petition because of an obscure bureaucracy and then insulted both those who signed the petition and had attended the meeting. He called those who had signed ‘partisan hacks’ and those who had attended a ‘bunch of clacks’. Not having an Etonian education like Boris’ it was hard to discern it’s meaning, but it was quite clear from the tone that it was derogatory.
There is nothing more important than people’s safety and the Tory Mayor’s cuts to local fire stations are unjustifiable. The closure is opposed by the Fire Authority, the Greater London Assembly and the Fire Brigades Union and the local response to the petition has been overwhelming, with people literally queuing up to sign.
We wanted to send a personal message to the Mayor to let him know how strongly people in Islington feel about the threatened closure of Clerkenwell Fire Station and the people who queued up to sign the petition and who came to City Hall did not expect to be treated so dismissively by the Mayor of London. His behaviour and disregard for our concerns was absolutely unacceptable.
The Mayor even continued his inappropriate language as the GLA attempted to amend the budget to save the Fire Stations calling them “great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies” eventually being ejected from the chamber in City Hall.
Unfortunately Labour were unable to amend the Mayor’s budget to save Clerkenwell, but we will continue the fight and continue our petition for what is such a crucial element to local safety.