Fire chiefs have offered a ‘glimmer of hope’ for a threatened fire station in South Tyneside.
Bosses at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority had been looking at cutting back on the number of firefighters based in Hebburn, Farringdon and Wallsend under £3m cost-cutting measures.
But, following a late intervention by Labour members of the authority, the final decision has been delayed for a year.
Plans for an overhaul of the way crews and equipment are distributed across the region were given the green light.
After the meeting, Russ King, Tyne and Wear brigade secretary for the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), called the decision ‘breathing space’.
He said: “We welcome the authority’s decision. However we’ve got to remind people we are still seeing cuts and we’re still seeing 16 posts lost.”
“We welcome this period of time to have a reflection to see what we can do in terms of future funding. The FBU will work with all to try and push for this extra funding.”
Plans unveiled by fire chiefs included proposals to move a heavy rescue unit form Hebburn to South Shields and switch from current 24-hour staffing arrangements to a new ‘day crewing’ duty system which would see the Hebburn site mannedf only during the day.
Although the fire authority still voted to move the heavy rescue unit, they also agreed to defer a decision on changing crewing arrangements to find either more cash or an alternative.
The decision was welcomed by Hebburn councillor John McCabe.
He said: “The more resources you have, the more you can do. It’s not something you ever want to happen, but if you haven’t got resources you can’t do anything.”
TWFRA members were given three proposals to vote on, which were predicted to save a combined total of £3.322m by the end of 2021/21.
The first set of proposals, a reorganisation of crews and equipment due to start in April in Tyne and Wear based on ‘risk and expected demand’ was given the green light.
Implementation of the other two options, covering crewing and shift arrangements was not scheduled to begin until 2020.
If all three options were adopted, it is thought it would lead to 82 jobs being lost and a further 12 created.
Fire chiefs have insisted they expect any job cuts to be handled without the need for redundancies.
Speaking after the decision, chief fire officer Chris Lowther said it would allow ‘the continuation of lobbying for a fairer funding settlement’.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service