West Yorkshire: Fire union warns of big risk as cuts plan moves on

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Thousands of residents in more than 100 council wards across West Yorkshire will face slower emergency response times if radical fire service cutbacks are carried out.

West Yorkshire Fire Authority members voted unanimously for proposals to axe a string of fire stations and cut 200 jobs to go out to a 12 week public consultation.

Fire stations under threat of closure include those in the Cookridge, Moortown, Garforth, Rothwell, Hunslet, Morley and Ossett areas.

They would be replaced by four new stations.

Response times in six council wards – including Morley South and Ossett – will increase by more than 2 minutes.

Response times in eleven council wards – including Alwoodley, Ardsley and Robin Hood, Morley North, Roundhay, Harewood, Kippax and Methley, Moortown and Horbury and South Ossett, will increase by one to two minutes.

A total of 84 wards will see response times increase by up to one minute.

David Wiliams, brigade secretary for Fire Brigades’ Union West Yorkshire branch, said: “The public in Leeds and across West Yorkshire will be at greater risk because of he extended turn out times if these proposals go ahead.

“Typically, a house fire will double in size every minute.”

West Yorkshire’s chief fire officer Simon Pilling said the service is set to lose up to £30m of its anual £90m budget by 2020 due to Government funding cuts.

And Mr Pilling stressed accidental fire deaths and injuries are at an all time low and said the success of the brigade’s fire safety work over the past 10 years means there is “undeniable scope for change.”

He added: “Public safety is absolutely top priority of West Yorkshire Fire Service. We are able to provide an excellent level of emergency response and capability to deeal with the broad range of incidents and activity the fire service deals with. The new locations will allow us to provide more effective cover for high risk communities for the next 30 years.”

Fire chiefs say the plan would also maintain or improve fire engine response times in 23 higher risk local electoral wards.

The public consultation will start on September 7 and end on November 30. The fire authority will meet again on December 21 to consider the outcome of the public consultation. If given the go ahead, the new proposals will be put in to practice between 2016 and 2020.

Full details on how to make representations about the proposals are available at www.westyorksfire.gov.uk.

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