Fiona Twycross is to be London’s first Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience when responsibility for the London Fire Brigade passes to City Hall next month.
Croydon resident Twycross has been the Labour’s lead Assembly Member on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), and her appointment means that Croydon will now have two deputy mayors. Val Shawcross, the former leader of Croydon Council, is Mayor Sadiq Khan’s deputy for transport.
LFEPA will cease to exist from the end of March, with the Mayor becoming responsible for the brigade’s executive oversight, in the same way that the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime was set up in 2012.
The abolition of LFEPA follows a number of clashes between the body and Boris Johnson when he was Mayor. Johnson overruled the authority to order the closure of fire stations and the axing of a number of the capital’s fire engines. He then insisted on the sale of the fire station real estate at below market value.
In place of LFEPA, day-to-day control of the Brigade will pass to a London Fire Commissioner. Dany Cottoon, the current London Fire Brigade Commissioner, has been confirmed for that post. She will report to Twycross, who will set the brigade’s budgets and strategic direction. The London Fire Brigade’s budget currently is set at £389.2million per year.
A new Fire and Emergency Planning Committee will be formed by the London Assembly which will become responsible for scrutinising the commissioner, Brigade and Mayor.
In 2016, when the abolition of LFEPA was announced by the government, Twycross welcomed the move to a fire service that would be “more transparent and open to public scrutiny”.
Then, Twycross said, “A transparent service, underpinned by strong accountability and oversight, is essential for ensuring that we can protect frontline services and the safety of Londoners. But ultimately, whether or not this offer delivers for Londoners will also depend on whether the Mayor is willing to make the safety of people in our capital a priority.”
Twycross is currently chair of LFEPA as well as a member of the London Assembly. She will become Deputy Mayor on April 1.
In announcing Twycross’s appointment, Khan said: “London’s firefighters, control officers and other Brigade staff work tirelessly to help keep the capital safe and their response to the terrorist incidents and Grenfell Tower tragedy last year was nothing short of heroic.
“Fiona led the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority with distinction through this hugely challenging time, and Dany has demonstrated incredible strength and leadership of the Fire Brigade.
“I wanted to make my intentions known at the earliest opportunity, and the continuity they provide will be of huge value.
“These changes to the arrangements for oversight of fire services in the capital will provide Londoners with much clearer and more accountable decision making.”
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