Earlier today I went to visit IPSA and was shown round the operation. I then spent an hour grilling board member Ken Olisa. More of that anon.
I got a cab back to TP towers by Lambeth Bridge and as I was getting out of the taxi I spotted some firefighters outside the fire station on Albert Embankment. So I went to have a brief chat with them. Actually, it turned into a half hour chat. All very amicable, and all designed to make my LBC programme tonight more informed. Interestingly, all of them (and there were 15-20 there) made clear they were all on strike because of the Section 188 notice letters rather than the proposed change in shift patterns. Quite a few of them said they would not have voted for a strike just over a change in shift patterns. And they all seemed very uncomfortable about going on strike on bonfire night. Their union rep told me they felt it was the only thing they felt they could do because apart from LBC and the Evening Standard, the media hadn't reported the reasons for the strike.
There was a lot of ill feeling directed towards Brian Coleman and his London Fire Authority colleagues. "What do they know about the Fire Service - they're only politicians", was the general view. And they all believe that if they give in on this there will be cuts to night cover and the number of available appliances in the future, even though Brian Coleman has categorically guaranteed that is not the case. They reckon that the real plan is to privatise the London Fire Service and hand it all over to AssetCo, who are handling the emergency cover.
Anyway, they were a terrific bunch and we had a really good discussion. I hope I will be able to accurately report their views tonight on the programme. Assuming we cover the strike!