Sunderland MP Brands Fire Cuts 'Ludicrous'

21 January 2014, 11:34 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott has told Capital cuts announced by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service 'nonsensical and ludicrous'.

At a meeting yesterday (Monday 20th Jan) the Tyne and Wear Fire And Rescue Service Authority announced that £5.5 million worth of savings to their budget would be made over the next 3 years.

Three options were put forward during a public consultation.

These were:

* Introduce four targeted response appliances (smaller vehicles); staffed by two firefighters, to attend lower risk incidents e.g. false alarms, rubbish fires and derelict property fires. Two of the targeted response appliances would be staffed 24 hours a day whilst the other two would be available 24 hours a day, but dual staffed. This would be supported by dynamic call handling by experienced Control Room staff.
* Remove six fire appliances, based on a rigourous analysis of risk, incident patterns and travel times.
* Invest in new firefighting technologies to enhance performance and safety e.g. high pressure fire suppression systems.
* 'Stand down' two fire appliances for up to 12 hours a night (during quieter periods) where the risk allows this to be done.
* All fire stations with one fire appliance to be crewed by four firefighters, rather than five. This is in line with the existing staffing at stations with more than one fire appliances.
* Reduce the number of aerial ladder platforms (ALPs) from three to two

* Option 1 and;
* Replace two community fire stations (Wallsend and Gosforth Community Fire Stations) with a new community fire station around the Benton area (the exact location will be decided based on a rigourous analysis of risk, incident patterns and travel times).
* Due to the changes to community fire stations, increase the number of community fire stations with two fire appliances.

* Option 1, 2 and;
* Close Sunderland Central Community Fire Station, which is surrounded by three stations
* Due to the changes to community fire stations, increase the number of community fire stations with two fire appliances.

Option 3 was chosen, which means there will be 131 job losses and the closures of Wallsend, Gosforth and Sunderland Central fire stations in the next three years.

Wallsend and Gosforth stations would be replaced by a new fire station based in the Benton area.

But the area that Sunderland Central currently serves would be picked up by existing stations in Fulwell and Farringdon.

Speaking to Capital FM, Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott told us:
"I'm very shocked that they've made this decision and the way the meeting was handled makes me very angry about the way the decision was made.

I understand there was only 1o minutes of discussions about the options. And to opt for this option is quite unbelievable.

We mustn't let the Government off the hook with this - they're implementing something like 23% cuts which are enormous and cuts and upon cuts.

I have absolute sympathy with the fire service in the position they're in however it is their decision on how to implement these cuts and I think their decisions and the way that they've handled this has been entirely wrong.

I'm hoping they'll get back around the table and look again.

The consultation was an absolute sham. 1.1 million people live in the area but there were only 233 responses, of which some were staff.

Sunderland is one of the biggest cities between Leeds and Edinburgh and there isn't going to be a fire station in the city centre.

It is absolutely ludicrous.

We have high rise buildings and an industrial port.

Response times from Fulwell, which will take over some of the calls, are apparently 6 minutes.

You've got to go over a bridge to get to the city centre from Fulwell and at rush hour that is just nonsensical. Absolutely ridiculous.

I will do everything in my power to stop this closure. They need to go back to the drawing board and work with people and come up with a solution that has the least impact on fire safety for the residents of Sunderland and Tyne and Wear."