At least 170 jobs to go at Tyne and Wear Fire Service


At least 170 jobs are to be lost as Tyne and Wear Fire Brigade tries to shave 25% from its budget over the next four years.

The brigade has pledged to try to avoid compulsory redundancies and plans to focus reductions on back room functions and underused equipment.

Chief Fire Officer Iain Bathgate has already signalled the scrapping of a part-time fire engine in Birtley.

Unions have expressed concern about the implications for front line services.

Mr Bathgate said: "We know that a 25% cut in our funding from central government will mean we lose nearly £9m over the next four years.

"We are also concerned that the government may change the formula they use to determine how much money we receive, as this could lead to a further reduction in our budget by as much as £2m.

"In planning our response to the cuts, we have tried to protect the front line services to ensure the public are not directly affected.

'Risk to public'

"However, should our proposals not generate the reductions required in the coming years or the situation changes we may have to look at other options which will have an impact."

Andy Noble, Fire Brigades Union secretary in Tyne and Wear, said: "This will inevitably result in a poorer service being provided to the public and consequently increases the risks to both the public and firefighters alike.

"Obviously the FBU will be guided by the views of its members in how we respond to such changes."

Helen Finkill, regional organiser of public sector union Unison, added: "Although we are pleased to acknowledge the efforts being made to avoid compulsory redundancies, the stark fact of the matter is there will be less staff employed to help protect communities and lives in the Tyne and Wear area."

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