West Yorkshire fire service cuts consultation starts

A fire engine leaving a fire station The fire service said it was facing cuts up to 2020

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Plans to cut 200 firefighter posts, close fire stations and reduce the number of engines in West Yorkshire are to go out to public consultation.

The county's fire service, which says it is likely to face budget cuts until 2020, claims the changes will save £8m.

The fire authority said its decision to put the proposals out for consultation should not be viewed as an indication of support for them.

The authority will make a decision at its meeting on 21 December.

Along with cutting full-time firefighter posts, other recommendations include closing Haworth fire station in Bradford and merging Shipley and Idle fire stations to a new site.

'Safety consequences'

In Leeds, Hunslet and Morley fire stations would be merged, as would Rothwell and Garforth and Cookridge and Moortown.

It has also been proposed to close Marsden fire station in Kirklees and remove an engine from Halifax.

In Wakefield, a new fire station for Ossett would be built nearer to Wakefield city centre, with an engine removed from the Wakefield station.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling said he had to make long-term provision to reshape fire cover and doing nothing was "not an option".

The Fire Brigades' Union said the proposals could have "serious consequences" for public safety.

Councillor Mehboob Khan, chairman of the fire authority, said: "Between now and 30 November, we are engaged in a listening exercise and nothing more.

"We want to be in a position to objectively balance the professional arguments and the views of local people.

"No final decision will be taken before the outcome of consultation is reported back to us on 21 December."

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