Police budgets row escalates as Balls slams Leeds cop shop cuts

MP Ed Balls, Coun Neil Dawson and Labour's police and crime commissioner candidate, Mark Burns-Williamson at Morley Police Station.

MP Ed Balls, Coun Neil Dawson and Labour's police and crime commissioner candidate, Mark Burns-Williamson at Morley Police Station.

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The row over police cuts has been ramped up after Labour representatives called for a rethink over plans to reduce station opening hours in Leeds.

West Yorkshire Police has to slash 22 per cent of its budget, amounting to about £104million, by 2015.

Proposals are in the pipeline to reduce the amount of time counters at various police stations are open to the public.

Under the current plans, Morley Police Station would close at weekends and open more sporadically during the week.

Yesterday, Shadow Chancellor and Morley MP Ed Balls visted the station alongside Mark Burns-Williamson, Labour’s candidate for the new role of West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, to voice their concerns.

Mr Balls said his constituency office had surveyed hundreds of people for their views on local policing.

He said: “The overwhelming picture is huge support for neighbourhood policing and massive doubts as to whether frontline policing can be maintained in the face of these cuts.

“This is a way of highlighting the kind of way in which these cuts impact on the frontline.”

Mr Burns-Williamson added: “Quite frankly the police are in an invidious position because of the scale of the cuts they are having to make. The public’s views should be taken into account before any decisions are made around changing the help desk opening hours.”

Chief Supt Paul Money, divisional commander for City and Holbeck police, said weekday opening hours at Morley station would not be reduced by as much as initially planned following a public consultation.

He added that discussions were continuing with Morley Town Council to explore possible extra funding to keep the station open at weekends.

“We are determined to remain as accessible as possible to the public,” he said.

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