MP launches police cuts fight

MP Yvette Cooper and councillor Pat Garbutt, Mark Burns-Williams,  councillor Celia Loughran and  councillor Paula Sherriff, outside Pontefract Police Station. (p603a231)
MP Yvette Cooper and councillor Pat Garbutt, Mark Burns-Williams, councillor Celia Loughran and councillor Paula Sherriff, outside Pontefract Police Station. (p603a231)
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MP Yvette Cooper is campaigning against cuts to policing in the district which could see the helpdesk shut at Pontefract police station on evenings and weekends.

Pontefract and Castleford MP Ms Cooper, along wth Pontefract councillors and police and crime commissioner candidate Coun Mark Burns-Williamson, have joined forces to fight the 20 per cent government spending cut to West Yorkshire Police’s budget, which will also see 800 fewer police officers across the county.

They are calling for the government to scale back the cuts planned for West Yorkshire so that police officers can be protected and the helpdesks can be retained and for West Yorkshire Police to look again at the helpdesk plans to find ways to keep services available in Pontefract at the weekend and in the evenings, sothe public can get easy access to the police and a proper base for the police in the town centre for the future is maintained.

Ms Cooper said: “These government cuts to police budgets are forcing West Yorkshire Police to cut 800 police officers and now to cut police helpdesks too. Chief constables have been put in an impossible position and it is communities that are being hit.

“People want to know they can get help in Pontefract town centre whenever they need it. We know there can be problems with crime and anti-social behaviour in Pontefract town centre at weekends and on Friday and Saturday nights.

“That’s why we are campaigning against the scale of government cuts and calling on ministers to rethink the deeply damaging extra cuts planned for next year. We also need West Yorkshire Police to rethink plans for Pontefract helpdesk and to work with us to keep services available for longer too.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, Labour’s candidate for police commissioner, said: “West Yorkshire Police is being put in an invidious position with regards to the scale of cuts being imposed on service with over £100m alone coming out of the West Yorkshire budget over a four-year period.

“We are working closely with the chief constable and division to review the proposals for the Pontefract helpdesk amid a very difficult funding situation.

“We are all committed to prioritising the front-line services as much as possible and that is what I will be fighting to do during the campaign to elect a police commissioner in November.”