POLITICS was pushed aside when council members from both sides of the chamber came together to present a united front against proposals to close Sunderland fire station.
Seven Conservative members at Sunderland City Council presented a motion to the full council meeting held at the Civic Centre in “total opposition” to the proposed closure.
The show of solidarity came as more than 9,000 people have signed the Echo’s “Hold Fire” petition in a bid to save the station.
Opposition leader Robert Oliver said: “We accept that cuts have to be made to the fire authority budget, given the financial situation. This motion is about how these cuts are made.”
Tory councillor Margaret Forbes, who sits on the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “The closure of fire stations is irreversible. When they are gone, they are gone. You have to have real concern that such a dramatic and irreversible step is being considered to save just £170,000.”
The station has been in Railway Row since 1993, when it moved there from High Street West.
Labour and fire authority member Bob Price said the “It is the busiest in Sunderland and the third most busy in Tyne and Wear, covering Hendon, St Michael’s, Pallion, Barnes, Ryhope and my own ward, Millfield. It helped save St Peter’s church in 1984 from total destruction. You can not predict when and where a major incident will occur. The facilities must be there to deal with it safely and effectively.”
Coun Iain Kay added: “It will come back to haunt all of us, and some of us more than others.”
All 60 councillors present at Wednesday’s meeting voted in favour of an amended motion preceded by the working “Following government funding cuts.”
Coun Peter Wood said the opposition was prepared to accept the amendment to show the council’s unanimous view in “total opposition to the closure of Sunderland Central Fire Station”.