MP calls for votes as Sunderland fire station campaign competes for award

Coun Tom Wright is handed the petition from Sunderland Echo deputy editor Richard Ord and MP Julie Elliott.
Coun Tom Wright is handed the petition from Sunderland Echo deputy editor Richard Ord and MP Julie Elliott.
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SUNDERLAND Central MP Julie Elliott is backing the Echo in Local Newspaper Week’s Making A Difference award.

The ‘Hold Fire’ campaign to save Sunderland Central Fire Station, spearheaded by the Echo, is in line for the national award this week.

The support of the Echo was invaluable in getting word out about the campaign and galvanising support.

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott

Hundreds of daily and weekly newspapers participate each year, and this year’s Making a Difference theme aims to showcase the role of local media in improving the lives of people in local communities.

The Echo joined forces with Wearside MPs, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and, most importantly, our readers, to fight Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority’s decision to close the city’s central fire station as part of a plan to save millions of pounds last year.

We collected 14,000 signatures in writing and online, while more than 20,000 people added their names to a collection organised by Julie Elliott and the FBU.

Fire authority chiefs met in February and agreed to reverse the decision.

“Local newspapers have a unique place at the heart of their communities and the Echo enjoys a very special connection with the people of Sunderland,” said Ms Elliott.

“The Hold Fire campaign is a perfect example of the good things that can be accomplished when a newspaper, its readers and the wider community come together.

“The support of the Echo was invaluable in getting word out about the campaign and galvanising support.

“Its coverage ensured the campaign remained in the public eye and helped us to maintain the pressure on those with the power to reverse what would have been a disastrous decision for the City of Sunderland.

“I am delighted to support the Echo in the Local Newspaper Week Making a Difference award.”

Sunderland Echo managing editor Gavin Foster said: “I am delighted the hard work and commitment of all 
those involved in the campaign, from fire service personnel to MPs and 
councillors, to the Echo’s staff and readers, has been recognised with 
this nomination.

l To vote, visit the website – www.localnewspaperweek.co.uk