CAMPAIGNERS will be encouraging shoppers to help save Sunderland Central Fire Station this weekend.
On Saturday, Julie Elliott MP will be at Sainsbury’s in Southwick where she will be urging hundreds more to join the 12,000 people who have now put their names to the Echo’s Hold Fire petition.
The station is earmarked for closure in 2017 as Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service faces having to make savings of more than £5million.
In an open letter to the Echo, Ms Elliott is urging more people to join the fight to try to save the at-risk fire station.
She said: “Last week, we read the remarkable story of George Smith, the former volunteer fireman from Pallion who singlehandedly collected almost 1,600 signatures for the Echo’s ‘Hold Fire’ petition.
“He has subsequently collected almost another thousand signatures.
“This is an amazing individual effort which should be applauded by all who support the campaign.
“The Fire Authority announced on March 24 that no stations would close for at least three years. It is my firm belief that this announcement would not have been made if the Echo’s campaign had not been supported by George and the other 12,000 or so individuals who have signed the petition.
“It is now critically important that we do not rest on our laurels but continue to push on with the campaign in an attempt to secure the future of the fire station beyond 2017.
“This Saturday, I will be collecting signatures in Sainsbury’s, off Wessington Way, with firefighters and volunteers. If you see us, please take a minute to sign the petition. Or, if like George, you would like to help by collecting signatures in your community, please get in touch.”
Fire brigade bosses argue they can adequately cover the city centre from Fulwell, Farringdon and Washington stations, but campaigners claim the closure would put lives at risk.