MP's fears over downgrading plan for Hebburn fire station
Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn has raised his concerns over plans to downgrade Hebburn Fire Station.
In a bid to save over £3m, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority has proposed that the station - in Victoria Road West, Hebburn - be manned by a part-time crew during the day – with evening and night cover provided by firefighters based in South Shields.
Mr Hepburn said: “The fact is that a possible switch to part-time staffing at Hebburn Fire Station, with evening cover provided from South Shields, is a major concern, especially due to the number of new housing estates being built in the nearby area.
"Public safety should always be the number one priority.”
He added: “It is deeply disappointing to learn that due to sustained budget cuts, the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service are having to look at downgrading Hebburn Fire Station in order to plug budget funding gaps.”
“It is quite clear that eight years of reckless Tory Government cuts have overstretched and underfunded our local fire and rescue services.
"Since 2010 the Service has had its budget slashed by over £11 million, over 40 per cent in real-terms. Tyne and Wear has also lost 285 front-line firefighter jobs.”
“I have written to the Government Minister responsible for the Fire Service and highlighted the challenging financial outlook facing the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, to see what can be done.”
In Parliament on Monday, Mr Hepburn asked the Secretary of State responsible for Housing, Communities and Local Government to investigate the financial issue.
He said:: “The Tyne and Wear fire service is facing £3 million of cuts, which could mean the closure of my local fire station. Will the Secretary of State look at the special problems with funding fire services that are facing local Government in the North East?”
In response, James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “I will certainly raise the point with colleagues who lead on fire within the Home Office.”
Mr Hepburn has also written to the Minister of State for the Fire Service at the Home Office to highlight the financial issues the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is facing.
The threat to Hebburn is contained in three options which are now subject to a ten-week consultation process by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority.
One option could see the loss of up to 70 jobs.
Chief fire officer Chris Lowther said: “To ensure we are a sustainable and flexible fire and rescue service, continuing to deliver an excellent service for our communities, our finite resources must be applied to where the greatest risks are in Tyne and Wear.”
The consultation will run until January 14 and is set to included public events in each of the five local authorities directly affected.