Councillors and campaigners sent out a defiant message against plans to close Clapham Fire Station during a consultation meeting.

The meeting, which took place in Lambeth Town Hall last night, was led by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) to consult on the draft fifth London safety plan.

There was standing room only as a panel of speakers, including London fire commissioner Ron Dobson and chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning James Cleverley, outlined the proposals.

Clapham fire station is one of 12 across London threatened with the axe under cost-cutting measures drawn up by the Mayor of London.

According to Lambeth Council, Clapham will be the worst affected part of London with response times rising to over five minutes.

Before the meeting firefighters and trade unionists staged a demonstration using a real fire engine outside the town hall.

Campaigners plastered banners to walls of the meeting room, while speakers were constantly interrupted by hecklers during the speeches.

The meeting was even interrupted so attendees could stage their own vote, with the room unanimously voting against the station's closure.

Mr Dobson admitted response times in Clapham will be increased by 34 seconds before the first engine arrives and 42 seconds for the second engine under the scheme.

He said: "Last year we attended less than 7,000 fires across the whole of London.

"The plan includes new targets, the plan includes reductions in fire stations, fire engines and firefighters."

He also said there will be more lobbying to fit sprinklers in buildings, while the LFB could start to impose charges for false alarms.

He said: "We also intend to have a renewed focus on safety in our roads in London. In some boroughs the LFB response more to traffic accidents than fires."

But Fiona Twycross, London Assembly member for Labour, who was also on the panel, showed her parties disagreement with the plans.

She said: "My personal view is that I don't believe the fire brigade should shut 12 fire stations simply to save £45m.

"In a complex high rise block which we have got quite a lot in the area, it might take longer."

During a question and answer session leader of Lambeth Council, councillor Lib Peck, said: "I don't think it is acceptable we are seeing an increase in response times.

"I don't think that is something we in Lambeth can accept."

Other questions posed to the panel included what will happen to the building and the consideration of the building work in Nine Elms.

Mr Dobson said: "That amount of building work will not necessarily mean an increase in fires. In London we have seen the opposite."

The consultation is running until June 17, with a final decision expected by the end of the year.