Fire station cost hidden from public

Leytonstone Fire Station

The newly reopened Leytonstone Fire Station

The cost of a new fire station has been hidden by London Fire Brigade (LFB) because it claims the information is “commerically sensitive”.

The Echo submitted a Freedom of Information (FoI) request asking LFB to reveal the cost of rebuilding Leytonstone Fire Station, after its press office refused to answer questions about the project.

But the information was again withheld by LFB in its FoI response, saying only that it was one of nine new fire stations built under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal.

LFB’s FoI officer stated: “We do not give out individual costs for each fire station because that is commercially sensitive. The project was awarded £51.5m in PFI credits (contract duration is 25 years) and was awarded to build nine fire stations. The total cost for construction is approximately £45m.”

PFI is a method of financing public infrastructure using long-term private contracts, but critics claim the repayments and interest saddle debt on the taxpayer. There has also been controversy recently in Scotland, when 17 schools built under PFI were closed because they contained building defects.

Work on the new Leytonstone station began in December 2014 and was carried out by the brigade’s PFI partner Blue3, a consortium led by Kier Group plc, the UK’s fourth-largest construction firm.

Leytonstone Fire Station reopened earlier this year and now includes three larger bays “better able to accommodate the brigade’s latest vehicles” as well as a four-storey drill tower containing training and administration facilities. There is also an area for people to access fire safety information.

Jamie Jenkins, borough commander in Waltham Forest, said: “The previous station served the community well for many years but was coming to the end of its working life. This fantastic new station provides us with facilities fit for the 21st Century and reinforces our commitment to providing the best possible service to the people of Leytonstone.”