A 34,000-plus signature petition opposing the closure of Sunderland Central Fire Station will be presented to fire authority bosses on Monday.
The Echo has collected 14,000 signatures in writing and online through our Hold Fire campaign, while more than 20,000 people have added their names to a collection organised by Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott and the Fire Brigade Union (FBU).
The petition will be handed over to fire authority chiefs ahead of a meeting on Monday morning which will set the authority’s revenue budget for the next year.
Sunderland Central, in Railway Row, is one of three stations earmarked for closure by the authority as it looks to save cash following £8.8million of Government cuts.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service unveiled plans to cut 131 jobs – 20 per cent of frontline posts – in October 2013.
The announcement that Sunderland City Centre would be covered from Farringdon and a new station to be built in Castletown immediately sparked protests.
In March last year, the authority announced the station, alongside those in Wallsend and Gosforth, had been handed a stay of execution and would not close until June 2017, with efforts being made to try to find the funds up to that date and a financial review being carried out every year in the meantime.
A rally through the city centre last weekend was addressed by Julie Elliott, city council leader Coun Paul Watson and representatives from the FBU.
Julie Elliott said it was important to keep the pressure on and not allow the station to make people complacent.
“We have had the decision deferred until 2017, but that is not the same as saying it has gone away completely,” she said.
“We need to keep the pressure on the fire authority to make sure it stays open.”
FBU Tyne and Wear secretary Russ King has been amazed by the response to the campaign.
“I have been overwhelmed with the support of the Echo and Julie Elliott in terms of rasing the profile of the campaign,” he said.
“FBU members will always be grateful for any help they receive and the support in the past few months has been remarkable.”