This morning Boris visited Harold Hill to open the new fire station - the first built in London since the GLA was created in 2000.
This opening marks the culmination of years of campaigning from local residents. Back in 2000 reorganisation of the Fire Brigade led to the removal of a fire appliance from Hornchurch Fire Station. There was bitter opposition in Havering and I presented a petition to the Fire Authority in early 2001. Five years later the new London Safety Plan was published, providing statistics on attendance times. Havering was performing much worse than the other London boroughs.
The case for replacing the fire engine was clearly made, but there was a problem. In the intervening years a new vehicle had been stationed at Hornchurch, providing specialist services to deal with road traffic accidents. With sections of the A12, A13 and even the M25 in Havering, the new vehicle was very busy saving lives and could not be moved.
The solution - build a brand new fire station in a location with easy access to the road network.
Harold Hill Fire Station shares a site with the local police base, paving the way for London's emergency services to work more closely together. The building is equipped with rainwater collection tanks and other modifications that will ensure energy and water efficiency. It provides 28 new fire fighting jobs and there have been plenty of applications from staff who want to work at the site.
Boris threw caution to the wind, sliding down the station's pole before unveiling the plaque and declaring the station open.