Current Affairs

Gay councillor rejected for Fire role

Tony Grew June 19, 2007
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The Mayor of London has rejected nine men for appointment to the London Fire Authority because they are all white.

Ken Livingstone says he wants the authority to accurately reflect London’s racial makeup and the appointments, “failed to tackle the under-representation of women and black, Asian and ethnic minority Londoners.”

The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) is responsible for the London Fire Brigade.

Its 17 members, nine from the London Assembly and eight London Councillors, are appointed by the Mayor from nomination of the political parties to reflect their political balance.

Gay Haringey borough councillor Ed Butcher was selected as the Lib Dem nominee following an election amongst all London Lib Dem councillors in May 2006.

However the mayor took steps to refuse to appoint nine representatives on the grounds that they were unrepresentative.

It seems likely the decision will be legally challenged on the grounds that the Mayor does not have the power to refuse nominations.

Councillor Ed Butcher told

“I have always considered my sexuality as secondary to my ability to scrutinise the Fire Brigade’s performance and ensure it is ready to respond to emergencies on behalf of all Londoners.

“But if the Mayor wants to make a point about diversity, it is quite astounding that he has refused to appoint me for not being diverse enough.

“London has the highest gay population in the country but it seems the Mayor thinks they do not deserve representation.

“Ken Livingstone can now add gay and lesbians to the lists of groups and minorities he has personally offended.”

The Mayor told the Evening Standard:

“It is unacceptable that when there are 1,861 councillors in London, of which 555 are women and 293 from black, Asian and White men ethnic minority groups, all seven Conservative nominees are white and include only one woman, and all three Liberal Democrat nominees are white men.”

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