At today’s (24 June 2011) annual meeting of West Yorkshire Police Authority (WYPA), Councillor Mark Burns-Williamson was unanimously elected as Chair of the authority for the ninth year running.
Vice-Chair, Councillor Les Carter was also re-elected for a fourth year.
Two new councillor members were welcomed to the Police Authority. Councillor David Kirton (Conservative) from Calderdale joined the authority in April after the last full authority meeting and former Leeds Mayor, Councillor Mohammed Iqbal (Labour) was appointed following the council elections in May.
Councillor Mark Burns-Williamson thanked his fellow members by saying, “It’s a great privilege to be re-elected as Chair of the Police Authority and especially in what could be its last year of existence. We have made our views quite clear and will continue to influence the debate wherever we can. I have every confidence that the members and staff will do what needs to be done whatever the outcome of the legislation on police reform in Parliament.
“Even though our future is still uncertain there is much business and many challenges to be getting on with. We are just a few months into the first year of four where we have to find a total of over £100m of savings on the latest estimates, mainly as a result of cuts to our Government grants announced last year. Alongside the Chief Constable, we are having to carry out a huge restructure of back-office and support services throughout the force as well as freezing recruitment in order to protect ‘front-line’ policing as much as possible. Our commitment to Neighbourhood Policing continues to be the bedrock looking forward and I pay tribute to our colleagues in local government across West Yorkshire for their ongoing support in Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) match funding which enables some new recruitment.
“Getting this right for the public of West Yorkshire will be our priority and, if a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is elected in May 2012, we will ensure that we hand over a police service capable of meeting the public’s needs. Whatever we think of the proposals to replace police authorities, we are clear about our duties and the work that needs to be done in a professional and effective manner.”
During the meeting at Wakefield’s County Hall, the Police Authority’s Annual Report was officially launched, highlighting the work of the authority during the past year and looking ahead to the future.
In his foreword, Councillor Burns-Williamson went into more detail about the challenges ahead and looked to collaboration with the other three forces and authorities within the region as a significant way of contributing towards the savings needed to be made in the next four years.