London Fire Brigade criticised over consultation process in plans for new museum

Robert Dex

London Fire Brigade has been criticised over the consultation process for its planned new museum.

The Brigade gave out “pre-completed consultation cards” allowing people to say they supported the plan without giving them the option to oppose it.

After a member of the public complained, the Museums Association’s ethics committee examined the process. They have not made their advice public but the Standard has seen correspondence with LFB in which the committee said they were “concerned”.

It stated: “Ethical consultation should be carried out with an open mind about public feedback, and it is not clear if this was the case.” It also raised concerns “about potential damage to trust in museums more widely if the LFB Museum is perceived to be acting on behalf of developers”. LFB plans to open the museum in 2023 as part of a redevelopment of its old HQ on the Albert Embankment. The architects want to make firefighters living exhibits by installing a glass wall dividing the building from a new fire station next door.

The scheme, which includes flats and a hotel, was approved by the council in December but more than 3,000 people have signed a petition opposing it.

A LFB spokesperson said the plans would “keep Lambeth residents safe long into the future with a refurbishment of Lambeth Fire Station”.

They added: “We were recently contacted by the Museums Association who asked us some questions about the consultation that was carried out as part of the planning application process and we were happy to discuss this with them.”

The spokesperson said that “a series of consultation sessions for people to have their say” on the planned museum would be announced later this year.