Tyne & Wear

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue cuts 'put public at risk'

Sunderland Fire Station Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption The Sunderland Central Fire Station is due to shut

Plans by the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to close three stations and axe 131 jobs will put the lives of the public at risk, an MP has claimed.

The fire authority has proposed the cuts as part of a package designed to save £13.6m by 2017.

Sunderland's station would close, and community operations at Wallsend and Gosforth would be replaced by a new station at Benton.

Labour Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said she was "devastated".

The measures "will put at risk the lives of the people of Sunderland and wider Tyne and Wear", she said.

"I do not believe the consultation on the options was meaningful.

"I will be writing to the fire authority to raise my concerns about the decision and the consultation process.

"I think the fire authority needs to go back to the drawing board and look again at how to implement the devastating cuts and to also look at the sensible use of its reserves."

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) secretary Dave Turner said: "These are the most devastating cuts in the service's history and will mean firefighters and the public will be at far greater risk."

He added: "These cuts will put lives at risk. The authority is sitting on reserves and yet chose to ignore the views of firefighters and the communities in Tyne and Wear.

"The government has already cut fire services to shreds, but these new attacks are worse than ever."

Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling said: "There is no doubt that this continues to be a challenging time for the service.

"Following the Fire Authority's decision we will begin to implement the changes in phases over the next three years and we will monitor this closely."

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