Leeds & West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire fire cuts face 'overwhelming' opposition

A public meeting to discuss proposals to cut 102 firefighters' jobs and close 10 fire stations in West Yorkshire revealed "overwhelming" opposition, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said.

The meeting, in Hemsworth, the site of one of the fire stations earmarked for closure, was attended by about 110 people.

The FBU said people's lives would be "threatened" if the cuts went ahead.

West Yorkshire Fire Service accepted local residents had "concerns".

The fire authority in West Yorkshire has to save £18m in the next four years due to government funding cuts.

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 proposes to build five new stations based at "optimum sites".

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

'Opposed the scheme'

Mark Wilson, FBU brigade secretary for West Yorkshire, said the meeting had shown people "did not want these proposals".

"The fact that over 100 people came here on a Friday night when they could have been doing something else is testament to the opposition to these proposals," he said.

"Overwhelmingly, people opposed the scheme."

Steve Rhodes, area manager for West Yorkshire Fire Service, said there had been "lots of debate".

"The community has concerns. They understand the rationale, but don't support the change," he said.

The meeting was part of a three-month consultation over the proposals which ends on 9 December.

The results of the consultation will be presented to West Yorkshire Fire Authority at a meeting on 16 December where a final decision is expected to be made.

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