Leeds and Wakefield: Axe looms over stations and 100 firefighters’ jobs

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Cost slashing plans to axe 102 full-time firefighters’ jobs and close fire stations across Leeds and Wakefield are closer to becoming reality.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority has drawn up a blueprint to shake up the service after the Government announced a funding cut of up to £18m over the next four years.

Authority members yesterday voted unanimously for the reforms to go through to a 12-week public consultation period, before making a final decision is made in December.

The plans involve:

l Closing Gipton and Stanks fire stations and building a new station at Killingbeck;

l Closing Rawdon and Otley and building a new station at Menston;

l Closing Hemsworth and South Elmsall and building a new station at South Kirkby;

l Closing Batley and Dewsbury and building a new station for Batley/Dewsbury;

l Closing Brighouse and Elland stations and building a new station at Rastrick;

l Moortown Fire Station to be kept open but 12 firefighters jobs to go.

All the new stations are set to have additional back up fire engines to be crewed during high demand periods.

The fire authority say the proposals could save £4m a year.

Mark Wilson, West Yorkshire brigade secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said there are currently around 1,580 operational firefighters working in West Yorkshire.

He added: “You cannot have this amount of reduction in firefighters and it not undermine the brigade’s capabilities to respond to emergencies. It is going to have significant implications.”

The authority says no firefighters will be made redundant as the job losses will be met through “natural wastage.”

Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling, said: “If we are to continue to provide the highest possible level of service in the current economic climate we have to move resources rapidly to where they’re needed most.

“We simply cannot afford to be precious about buildings and out-dated ways of working.”

Freya Kirkpatrick rides her bicycle along a path through a stunning carpet of bluebells in Bow Wood near Matlock, Derbyshire. Picture: F Stop Press Ltd.

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