Temporary reprieve for Sunderland and South Tyneside fire stations chiefs consider £3million cost-cutting plans

Hebburn Fire Station.
Hebburn Fire Station.
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Fire chiefs have agreed to delay cost cutting plans which could see up to 70 jobs axed across Tyne and Wear.

A package of three proposals was put to members of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority this morning intending to save more than £3million.

Farringdon Community Frire Station, Sunderland

Farringdon Community Frire Station, Sunderland

Bosses gave the green light to plans to overhaul the way crews are distributed across the region - but they did not make a final decision on other changes, such as changes to crews and shift patterns at Hebburn and Farringdon stations.

Instead, those proposals are to be revisited before April 2020 – the date the original recommendations had been slated for implementation - before a late amendment tabled by Labour members of the authority.

Fire chiefs have insisted the changes are not only safe but necessary to balance the cash-strapped service’s books without dipping into savings already earmarked for things like new fire engines, stations and breathing equipment.

The have also said they do not expect up to 82 planned job cuts to be made through redundancies, if all proposals are eventually approved.

Cuts plans

Fire chiefs approved just one of three separate savings proposals they hope will save £3.322million over the course of 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/21.

They are:

Proposal One – An overhaul of how crews are distributed across Tyne and Wear.

This will see a fire engine and targeted response vehicle (TGV) moved from Washington to Sunderland Central and from Gosforth to Newcastle Central.

Heavy rescue units will also move from Hebburn to South Shields and, following suggestions raised during public consultation, from Newcastle Central to Washington.

This is expected to save £717,000.

Proposal Two – Switch to a part time ‘on-call duty system’ at Wallsend, Hebburn and Farringdon.

This is expected to save £1.62million.

Proposal Three – Change shift timings so crews change over at 9am and 5pm.

This is expected to save £985,000.

A final decision on proposals two and three is now expected to be made before April 2020.

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service