MP slates Government over fire cuts

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WENTWORTH and Dearne MP John Healey claims the Government has cut funding for the fire service in Metropolitan areas – including South Yorkshire - while giving more money to richer, rural counties.

Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons this week, The Labour politician asked Fire Minister Bob Neill: “Fire services in Hampshire, Essex, Dorset, Devon and Somerset are receiving an increase in the Government grant over the next two years.

“South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, the West Midlands, Merseyside and Greater Manchester all face cuts of more than 12%. Why?”

The figures refer to Formula Grant funding for the period 2011-2013.

Funding for South Yorkshire is being cut by 12.5 per cent, or £4.6m.

In contrast, more money is going to Hampshire, Essex, Dorset, Devon and Somerset, Staffordshire and Cheshire.

South Yorkshire Fire Authority expects the funding settlement to be even tougher in 2013/14 and 2014/15.

Mr Healey has now convened a meeting of Chief Fire Officers and MPs of all parties representing the six Metropolitan areas – South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Tyne and Wear and West Midlands – to discuss the impact of the cuts.

It will take place in the House of Commons later this month.