Councillors demand rethink on Sunderland fire station closure

Save Sunderland Fire Station  demonstrators outside Sunderland Civic Centre on Wednesday night.
Save Sunderland Fire Station demonstrators outside Sunderland Civic Centre on Wednesday night.
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A PETITION has been handed over demanding fire bosses reconsider their decision to close Sunderland Central Fire Station.

Councillors from across the city are demanding action after Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s bid to shut the station, as they look to make cuts of £5million.

The submitted petition, which contains 47 signatures, demands an extraordinary meeting is called “as soon as is practicable” to discuss the following motion: “This council requests that Tyne and Wear Fire Authority revisits its decision and consultation process that determined the future closure of Sunderland Central Fire Station.”

The move to close the station has been met with anger by unions and politicians who claim lives will be put at risk. Last month, fire bosses voted in favour of closing the Railway Row station, meaning the city centre would have to be covered by crews from Fulwell, Farringdon and Washington stations.

Tom Capeling, chief fire officer, tried to allay fears by claiming the service was confident in reaching serious fires in the city centre within a six-minute time period, despite the closure.

Union bosses insist the move will have serious implications for the thousands of residents and businesses in the city centre.

Dave Turner, Fire Brigade Union North East regional secretary, added: “We would welcome any move which would make the Fire Authority revisit the decision that it made last month.” Julie Elliott, MP for Sunderland Central where the fire station is located, has also expressed serious concerns about the decision. She is now asking the Service to re-look at the consultation process that resulted in the move.

The consultation, carried out across the whole of the Tyne and Wear area between last October and January 1 this year, attracted just 233 responses from members of the public, 48 from Service staff and a handful of others.

A spokeswoman for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “At its meeting on Monday, February 17, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority will consider, and determine any response to a petition to Sunderland City Council.”

Councillor Harry Trueman said: “At a meeting of full council on January 29 the leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson, petitioned the Mayor to call an Extraordinary Meeting of the council to discuss the proposed closure of the Central Fire Station.”