Ed Balls calls for rethink on cuts to police station hours

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SHADOW Chancellor Ed Balls has stepped into the row over police cuts in West Yorkshire by calling for a rethink over plans to reduce station opening hours.

West Yorkshire Police has to make 22 per cent savings, amounting to about £104m, by 2015.

Proposals have been floated to reduce the amount of time counters at various police stations are open to the public.

Under the plans, Morley Police Station, which is in Mr Balls’ Morley and Outwood constituency, would close at weekends and open more sporadically during the week.

Yesterday the MP visited the station alongside Mark Burns-Williamson, Labour’s candidate for the new role of West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, to voice his concerns.

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

“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 proposed, following a public consultation.

Discussions are continuing with Morley Town Council to explore possible extra funding to keep the station open at weekends.

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