Leeds & West Yorkshire

Public to consider West Yorkshire Fire Service cuts

People in West Yorkshire are to be asked to give their views on plans to close 10 fire stations and cut 102 firefighters' jobs.

West Yorkshire Fire Authority has approved the draft plans but said they posed a "significant change".

The fire authority must save £18m in the next four years.

A Fire Brigades Union spokesman said they would consider the plan but doubted that front line services would remain unaffected.

The authority said it hoped job losses could be achieved through the "natural retirement" of firefighters.

It said it would ensure the public would not be put at risk as a result of any closures or job losses.

'No efficiency loss'

The 10 fire stations earmarked for closure are Gipton, Stanks, Rawdon, Otley, Brighouse, Elland, Hemsworth, South Elmsall, Batley and Dewsbury.

However, the fire authority also proposed to build five new stations based at "optimum sites".

The new stations would be built at Killingbeck, Menston, Rastrick, South Kirkby and Batley Carr.

West Yorkshire Fire Service currently operates 48 fire stations across five districts.

Councillor David Ridgway, chair of West Yorkshire Fire Authority, said the authority was determined to approach the government cuts as an "opportunity".

"This is a chance to put into place the infrastructure where it is needed for the benefit and safety of the people," he said.

Mr Ridgway promised there would be "no loss of efficiency" in the fire service.

However, Mark Wilson, secretary of the West Yorkshire branch of the Fire Brigades Union, said he was concerned about the effect the proposed cuts would have on the day-to-day running of the fire service.

"I find it hard to believe the promise that there will be no cuts in front line services. That has obviously now manifested itself," he said.

Mr Wilson said his members would "carefully consider" the fire authority's plans before reporting back.

The draft plans will be re-considered by West Yorkshire Fire Authority in December, following the public consultation.

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