Bid to halt cuts in Tyne and Wear fire service

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FIRE chiefs on Wearside claim the area is facing the worst budget cut in the country.

Tyne and Wear Fire Authority is struggling to cope with the multimillion-pound Government savings and faces cutting engine numbers.

The brigade is accusing the Government of targeting poorer areas, but leaving more affluent areas with enough funding.

At 12.9 per cent, Tyne and Wear brigade’s cut is almost double the national average.

Chief officer Iain Bathgate says job losses are inevitable.

Now members of the fire authority are writing to ministers pleading for a change to the planned cuts.

Chairman Nick Forbes said: “We’ve already made virtually all the efficiencies we can and are faced with the awful prospect or having to consider reducing the number of fire engines.”

Alan McLean, of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “I wish more authorities would follow Tyne and Wear’s example and speak out about this, because they are having their ability to perform taken away from them and I agree wholeheartedly with what Tyne and Wear is doing and saying.

“This is grossly unfair, the impact of which is grossly underestimated and it will be devastating to many.”