Letter, Thursday, January 23, 2014

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Solutions needed to station closures

 However, before this, the fire brigade cuts need to be solved in a much wider context.

 Firstly, have all other avenues been considered, starting with how many senior posts will be lost. In fact, just how many senior posts are there at the brigade headquarters (and Sunderland)?

 It appears to be a bit of a secret as it has never been made public.

 Secondly, the strange shift patterns the fire brigade currently works results in fire stations having significant accommodation requirements, such as dormitories. Normal three-shift working would release these areas and make safer driving conditions.

 The current situation of fire engine drivers being awoken during the night and then expected to drive, possibly at speed, a minute or so after being awakened, hardly meets health and safety risk assessments.

 Last year, Sir Ken Knight CBE published a report for the Government, Facing the Future, on the fire service nationally.

 He published in May last year, so it is still very relevant.

 He made several very sensible proposals and suggestions, including merging fire brigades and co-location of ‘blue light’ services.

 So surely, here lies a solution for Sunderland Central fire station and Gill Bridge police station?

 Place the fire crews on three, eight-hour shifts, thereby removing the need for dormitories, and allow city centre police operations to be co-located in the fire station.

 Obviously, there is the possibility of reduced fire appliances, but at least some fire appliances and the police will still be located in the city centre in what is a virtually new building (it is only 20 years old).

Councillor Colin Wakefield

Houghton

Badly handled

THE closure of Sunderland Central fire station is another example of cuts that are necessary but badly handled and approved by Labour councillors.

 There is a need to reduce the deficit and the fire and rescue service must play a part in that, but there is no reason to close Sunderland Central fire station.

 It is the third busiest fire station in Tyne and Wear and is set to close while others remain open, or are merged and rebuilt, on Tyneside.

 In addition, the Fire Authority holds reserves of almost 50 per cent of the net budget, which could have been drawn on to protect fire stations and jobs.

 It is also important to note that the Conservative councillors on the Fire Authority voted against the closure of the main fire station.

 Sadly, Labour (with one abstention) and Liberal Democrat councillors voted for the plan, and the council did not submit a representation to the meeting.

 This decision, along with the loss of the Gil Bridge police station, also contributes to the hollowing out of the city centre and is opposed by the Conservative Group.

Councillor Robert Oliver

Leader Conservative Council Group

A gaping mistake

AMERICAN university professor Linda Colley was talking on Radio 4 about the time when Britain was a seafaring nation.

 She named the great shipping centres: Glasgow, Belfast, Portsmouth and – wait for it – Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

 Can you guess which place the professor failed to mention?

 Only the biggest shipbuilding town in the world, with more shipyards inside its boundaries than anywhere else.

 Linda, love, go back to your university with a blast from all loyal Mackems ringing in your lugholes.

 I’ll even lend you my copy of Where Ships Are Born, published in 1946 on the 600th anniversary of the first ship to be built on the Wear.

William Crane,

Washington