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‘These cuts will kill’ – People’s Assembly blasts Sunderland fire station closure plans

Speakers at the Sunderland People's Assembly Against Austerity public meeting at Age UK, Stockton Road, Sunderland, on Wednesday night. Pictured l-r are Jill McManus NUT, Ken Richardson Sunderland Public Services Alliance, Coun. Rosalind Copeland, Eddie Harrison Fire Birgade Union, James Meadway of the New Economics Foundation and Rev. Chris Howson of Sunderland Minster.

Speakers at the Sunderland People's Assembly Against Austerity public meeting at Age UK, Stockton Road, Sunderland, on Wednesday night. Pictured l-r are Jill McManus NUT, Ken Richardson Sunderland Public Services Alliance, Coun. Rosalind Copeland, Eddie Harrison Fire Birgade Union, James Meadway of the New Economics Foundation and Rev. Chris Howson of Sunderland Minster.

THESE cuts will kill – that was the message of an organisation as it backed calls to keep Sunderland Central Fire Station open.

The People’s Assembly has given its support to the campaign, which urges Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority to reverse its decision to shut the Railway Row base as it tries to save cash in light of Government cuts.

At a meeting of organisations to discuss how austerity has hit Wearside, petitions in support of our Hold Fire campaign were passed around to add to the 3,800-plus names already pledged to the appeal.

The Assembly’s Reverend Chris Howson, who is based at Sunderland Minster and is also the city’s university chaplain, said: “At the Minister, during Sunday, we filled two sheets straight away. We’re really pleased the Echo, councillors and MPs are giving their backing to this absolutely fundamental and vital service.

“The Government cuts will kill, and people should be opposing these cuts.”

Fire Brigade Union member Eddie Harrison, a firefighter of 25 years who is based at Farringdon Fire Station, was also on the panel of the meeting, held at Age UK’s base in Stockton Road, and spoke of how the decision will impact on residents and businesses.

He said the service’s plans will recoup £340,000, an amount the union has said should be found from its reserves to preserve the service.

The effort to save £8.8million during the next year includes cutting 131 jobs, reducing the number of fire appliances by six, shutting Sunderland Central and two others in Newcastle, but replace those with a new station.

The meeting also featured representatives of Sunderland Trades’ Council, James Meadway of the New Economics Foundation, Southwick Councillor Rosalind Copeland and the NUT.

Sunderland People’s Assembly will next meet on Monday at 7pm in the Minister.

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