MPs urged to rethink fire cuts in Yorkshire

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MINISTERS are being urged to re-think future cuts to fire service budgets amid claims hundreds more Yorkshire firefighters face losing their jobs.

MPs from all three parties are to meet Fire Minister Bob Neill next week to raise fears that funding cuts are hitting metropolitan areas such as South and West Yorkshire hardest.

Fire chiefs in those areas claim they are having to deal with cuts almost twice as deep as in some other parts of the country.

They have given MPs a dossier of evidence which suggests hundreds of firefighters will have to be axed if they face equally deep cuts for the two years from 2013, when fire officers fear budgets could be cut by another 27 per cent – £13.4m in West Yorkshire and £8.1m in South Yorkshire.

Officers say this would “undoubtedly” cause more redundancies and hamper abilities to respond to major incidents.

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey said: “Our areas have taken the biggest hit in the first two years, while some parts are getting an increase in funding. The fire chiefs put together a strong, factual case about their fears for future safety and services if ministers don’t spread cuts more fairly in the next two years.

“My job is to lead the arguments with the Government and lead the cross-party, cross-area pressure to make them see the risks they will run.”

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts and Leeds East’s George Mudie are also due to attend.

A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said: “Every bit of the public sector needs to play its part to cut the deficit.

“Given the importance of fire and rescue as a frontline service, the funding changes have been back loaded to the end of the Spending Review period to make it easier for fire authorities to deliver savings from back office and administration.”