A CITY pool hall is cueing up support to keep Sunderland’s main fire station open.
It was announced earlier this year that Sunderland Centre, in Railway Row, Millfield, could close as part of multimillion-pound budgets.
In response, the Echo’s Hold Fire campaign has garnered well over 12,000 signatures calling on Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) to reconsider.
Now Cheema’s American Pool and Snooker Club, which is just a few hundred yards away from Sunderland Central in Hylton Road, is throwing its weight behind the petition.
Staff have collected more than 200 signatures from members towards the campaign.
Owner Gurjit Cheema said today: “I haven’t counted how many signatures we’ve managed to get but it’s well over 200 now.
“It’s all from the members who are pretty passionate about this whole situation.
“Hylton Road itself has over 100 businesses on it and it’s also in a large residential area.
“My mam was in a car accident on Hylton Road and had to be cut out by officers from the station.
“This is our city centre fire station and we can’t afford to lose it.”
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) say that Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service have axed 173 jobs in recent times - a total of 18 per cent of the brigade - putting peoples’ lives in danger in the process.
FBU rep Gordon Chalk, who accepted the signatures from Mr Cheema, told the Echo: “This is fantastic and just what we need for the campaign.
“Now, we’d like every other business in the area to match the signatures Cheema’s has got, because this affects them all.”
Mr Cheema added: “Getting signatures in is something we are going to keep doing.
“We have thousands of members and we hope to catch them at the right time so that they can show their support for the campaign.”