THE Echo’s fight to stop Sunderland Central closing moved up a gear after fire bosses admitted there was a possibility the station could be saved.
A meeting of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue’s Fire Authority was yesterday asked to delay the proposals to shut the Railway Row station for a minimum of three years to allow members, MPs, and residents to lobby the Government for extra money.
In the end, members of the Authority agreed closing the station would be a last resort and only implemented at the final stage of the cost-cutting measures.
In the meantime, budgets will be further scrutinised and the coalition Government asked for additional funding.
Coun Bob Price, whose Millfield ward covers the station, spoke at the meeting, asking for a complete review of the decision to close.
The councillor highlighted widespread support for the Echo’s Hold Fire campaign, and noted the station’s location and high number of callouts as he voiced fears the Authority was “cutting services too fast and deep”.
After the meeting he said: “The only thing is to lobby Government for an increase in funding so we don’t have the station shut down.”
Union bosses today expressed concerns that calls for the decision to be completely reversed had not been listened to. Dave Turner, the Fire Brigade Union’s brigade secretary, added: “The FBU is extremely disappointed that a resolution from Sunderland Council that could have safeguarded the future of three stations marked down for closure for a minimum of three years has been disregarded.”
Julie Elliott, Member of Parliament for Sunderland Central, said she was disappointed the Authority had not backed Coun Price’s motion, which she said would have prevented a closure and not put lives at risk.
“That would have been the best outcome of the meeting,” she said. “We just have to get backing from all concerned to try and get them to change that decision and only the Fire Authority can do that.
“The agreed upon review is simply not good enough. I will redouble my efforts to try and stop this closure going ahead, working with all concerned to make the Authority see sense and revise this genuinely unsafe decision.”
The Echo’s Hold Fire petition can be signed via www.sunderlandecho.com.