Spending cuts hit emergency services hard

SPENDING cuts have hit the emergency services hard and will impact on the district heavily.

West Yorkshire Police Authority gave out a stark warning on policing in the area as they budget for a potential £87 million shortfall over the next four years.

A major restructuring programme is being undertaken to rationalise the number of headquarters departments and create a leaner organisation. By the end of next year West Yorkshire Police will have around 1,000 fewer police staff and police officers - gained through natural leavers and the continuing recruitment freeze, with the following years’ budget predicted to be even harder.

Deputy Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, David Crompton, said around 250 redundancies mainly from back office and administration roles are expected to be made. “Clearly any loss of staff is highly regrettable which is why the Force has been running Operation Transform for the last eight months, to ensure the necessary reductions have as little impact on frontline services as possible.”

He said the Force was committed to retaining neighbourhood policing.

Meanwhile a stop on recruiting firefighters has been in place since last summer and will carry on “for the foreseeable future”. West Yorkshire Fire Service will lose 150 support jobs as the service takes action to meet a £5.8m cash shortfall for the next financial year.

Fire bosses say they should be able to manage through the next two years, but fear the impact of cuts after that could hit frontline services.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling said ministers had yet to reveal the exact level of grant for 2013-15, but the budget shortfall could rise to an additional £11m. “Obviously, cuts on that scale can’t be managed without affecting the frontline, which is why I have embarked on a root-and-branch review of fire cover across the whole county,” he said. “We will have to try and deliver the same with much, much less. Non-recruitment alone will cost 200 firefighter posts over the four-year period.

“I’m hoping that initial options will be available by the spring so we can start involving the public and our staff in decision-making as appropriate and as early as possible.”