Police cut back on crash repairs

West Yorkshire Police wants to cut its car crash repair team. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
West Yorkshire Police wants to cut its car crash repair team. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
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A YORKSHIRE police force is to cut three jobs in its collision repair team to make room for a “more lucrative” service in the same building.

West Yorkshire Police has announced plans to make the redundancies within the team, which repairs damage caused to its fleet by accidents.

The move will make space in the same workshop for its Vehicle Preparation Unit (VPU), which builds and supplies vans for police use and generates business around the country.

VPU is currently based at the police’s Bolling Road facility in Ilkley, but bosses want to sell the site as part of a wider effort to save money by cutting the number of empty or nearly empty buildings.

Bolling Road had been occupied by the force’s Transport Department, Economic Crime Unit and Professional Standards team but now only houses VPU, despite costing £96,000 a year to run.

The transfer to the new base, Unit 41 in Wakefield, will see the Collision Repair Centre cut in size and more of its work being carried out by an external contractor, Vehicle Bodycare.

One extra member of staff will be employed so that more local repairs can be carried out in-house, but workers will still end up “being surplus”.

A report by the force’s estates team said: “It is proposed that changes to the collision repair arrangements should be put in place to accommodate the more lucrative VPU, which has generated in excess of £250,000 in the current financial year.”

It added: “It will be necessary to make three staff redundant within the Collision Repair Centre to achieve the ultimate goal by making greater use of the contract we have with Vehicle Bodycare.

“However through the changes outlined there will be an improved service to the force by making greater use of localised repairs.”

The proposals have been approved by West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson.

Senior officers want to reduce the cost of the force’s buildings, particularly those it does not own, in a bid to cut costs while minimising the impact on front-line services.

It also plans to terminate its lease on another police building in Wakefield next year.

A spokesman said: “With budget cuts continuing to affect the force this year and beyond we are having to consider how best to use our available estate.”

It was announced last year that a consortium led by support services group Interserve had won a £150m deal to build two new divisional headquarters, plus custody suites and a training facility.

The buildings, which are being paid for through a private finance initiative, will be built at Elland Road in Leeds and Havertop Lane in Normanton.

The Elland Road station, to be built on the former greyhound stadium, will replace outdated facilities at Millgarth police station, in Leeds city centre, and Holbeck police station.

The training centre, which will include firearms training ranges, driver training and public order training facilities, will be next to the force’s operational support division in Carr Gate, north of Wakefield.

Police are consulting on names for the new facilities. The base at Carr Gate could be called Bishopgarth House, while the only suggested name so far for the Elland Road site is Elland Road Police Station.

Possible names for the Normanton base include Wakefield Divisional Headquarters, Loscoe House, or Dom Pedro House after the old colliery. City and Holbeck Division also looks set to be re-named City and South Leeds.

It has now been decided to hold a competition to decide the new names, with a bottle of champagne as the prize.