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From Keighley News, 14th November, 2017
Written by Alistair Shand

DISTRICT MPs are backing calls for more Government funding to be pumped into policing West Yorkshire. It follows warnings from Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson that without additional investment, the force's cash reserves will have dried up in five years. He has invited West Yorkshire's MPs to a Westminster meeting this afternoon to discuss the situation ahead of the Chancellor's Autumn Budget next week.

Both Keighley Labour MP John Grogan and his Tory neighbour Philip Davies, whose Shipley seat includes Cullingworth and Denholme, are attending.

And both are supportive of the call for more cash.

"In recent months – for the first time in a decade – the numbers of police and community support officers have increased in Keighley," said Mr Grogan.

"This is largely because the West Yorkshire PCC has increased the police precept on the council tax by more than inflation for the last two years.

"This is beginning to make a difference on the streets.

"Now we need the Chancellor to do his bit in the budget and also put more money into West Yorkshire Police.

"We could then begin to make a significant impact on tackling crime in the county."

Mr Davies said he had long made the case for increased funding for the police, including in the Commons several times, and "would continue to do so".

Earlier this month, Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the PCCs' annual conference to "stop asking the Government for more money" when crime increases, and that efficiency savings could still be made.

But Mr Burns-Williamson said ongoing budget cuts had become "unsustainable" and he warned the precept may have to rise again.

The West Yorkshire force's reserves stand at £95 million, however he said this could all be spent by 2022.

"The current 'flat cash' settlement for local forces does not offer protection from increased demand, inflation or the recent agreed pay rise for officers," added Mr Burns-Williamson.

"The price we will pay for an under-resourced police service in West Yorkshire is too high.

"The police's ability to combat crime and properly protect the public is under strain and the cost to our communities is being seen in a rise in response times, an increase in crime and a decrease in confidence levels.

"Since 2010, we have had a budget cut of £140m and the loss of 2,000 police officers and staff.

"The pressure this has put the police under as forces like ours try to protect frontline policing and find efficiencies elsewhere is significant.

"Our communities need more resources, not less.

"Further additional savings will be hard to achieve and with reserves forming part of the force's legal obligation to hold contingency monies, I have used some £11m this year alone to fund frontline policing.

"By 2022 most of West Yorkshire's reserves will have been spent or committed to existing obligations such as capital build programmes and further technology investment.

"In our county we continue to police by consent with neighbourhood policing as the cornerstone of community safety, but to continue to do this we need to invest more in the frontline.

"The only way that we will meet the challenges we face is for increased central investment in local police forces."