Tyne & Wear

Tyne and Wear Fire Authority station closure plan approved

Sunderland Fire Station Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Under-threat stations - including Sunderland will not shut until 2017, the fire authority said

Fire chiefs in Tyne and Wear have voted to close three stations and axe 131 jobs.

The fire authority want to make the cuts over the next four years to trim £8.8m from its budget.

But it said under-threat Sunderland, Wallsend and Gosforth stations would not shut until 2017 at the "very earliest".

The service is also set to lose four fire engines. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said it was a "sad day".

Swalwell and Wallsend Community Fire Stations will each lose a fire engine from June.

'Lives at risk'

Dave Turner, local FBU secretary, said: "This is a very sad day for firefighters, and the loss of engines will lead to poorer attendance times and an increased risk to the public and firefighters.

"Although we cautiously welcome the decision to safeguard the three fire stations until June 2017, proposals to lose 131 jobs will devastate our fire and rescue service and put lives at risk."

He added that the union was to hold a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the cuts.

Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling said: "The authority needs to find a projected £8.8m due to reductions in government grants, with no option but to make changes to our front-line service.

"The impact and size of the cuts will be monitored to ensure the long term stability of the organisation. The authority's number one priority is the safety of our staff and the public."

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