West Yorkshire fire bosses agree tax rise

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A £5-a-year precept rise has been agreed by West Yorkshire Fire Authority.

The rise - the equivalent of 10p a week for band D householders - will mean the brigade will be able to re-shape its fire cover, invest more in fire safety education for the most vulnerable and recruit retained firefighters in rural areas of the county, says the authority.

Mehboob Khan, chairman of the authority, said: “The national funding formula and subsequent grant cuts have been so damaging to West Yorkshire that this precept increase, although small, will go a long way to helping the authority balance its books and invest in vital services.

“The fire and rescue service is going through a spell of unprecedented change at the moment and West Yorkshire has had to make some difficult decisions in order to maintain a high quality service.

“However, West Yorkshire remains one of the lowest cost, yet highest performing authorities in the country. Households in West Yorkshire will still be paying less than their Yorkshire neighbours.”

West Yorkshire has frozen its precept for two years running and has the second lowest precept of all fire and rescue authorities in the country.

The authority says it has lost a total of £5.9 million in revenue support grants over the past two years and will lose a further £7.5 million over the next two years.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling said: “The authority approved a £44.5 million capital investment plan over the next five years, which will allow us to reshape fire cover across West Yorkshire in order to maintain a first-class service.

“This increase means that we will not have to re-visit a plan of station closures over the short term, but more importantly, it means we can invest in vital projects, such as fire safety and retained firefighter recruitment.

“As always, our priority is making West Yorkshire safer and the people of West Yorkshire can rest assured that they will continue to receive the highest quality of service.”