Minister’s car beset by furious firefighters
HAPLESS Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt had to flee an official fire station opening yesterday when furious firefighters forced her car to turn back.
The Portsmouth MP was set to mingle with London brigade bosses at a cosy tea-and-sandwiches tour of the new £4.9 million West Norwood fire station.
But she reversed at speed after police failed to contain protesters ringing the “state-of-the-art” private finance initiative project.
Dozens of officers and a line of bouncers were deployed outside the building but they were pushed back as Ms Mordaunt’s car approached the gate.
With no hope of moving forward her driver opted to reverse out of the confrontation.
Forty-five minutes later the minister was back for a second go — this time backed up by a fresh van-load of police who successfully cleared a path.
But the station’s fire crews echoed the sentiments of their colleagues outside by refusing to mix with Ms Mordaunt — responsible for pension cuts and changes bitterly opposed by firefighters.
Fire Brigades Union London secretary Paul Embery said it was “ironic” that the Tory had been asked to open a new station.
“The government she is a part of has been responsible for some of the biggest cuts in the history of the fire and rescue service,” he said.
“Since 2010 over 5,000 firefighter jobs have been cut, more than 40 fire stations have closed and 999 emergency call response times have increased.”
An official London Fire Brigade press release heralding the opening went mysteriously missing from its website yesterday following the confrontation.