To consider a report on proposals for the shared use of Newent and Dursley Community Fire Stations.
Mark Preece, Chief Fire Officer, introduced the report on proposals for the shared use of Newent and Dursley community fire stations with Gloucestershire Police, highlighting that this was one of their areas of focus for joint collaborative working.
James Grierson, Head of Logistics and Resources, GFRS, explained that the following 6 community fire stations had been considered for use by Gloucestershire Police: Dursley, Stroud, Stow, Cirencester, Newent and Winchcombe.
Members noted that interest had been shown by the police in Dursley, Winchcombe and Newent stations. However, having met with the police at Dursley Fire Station for a second time, and looked at costings, it was felt that the station did not provide the space needed for the police to operate.
It was understood that the current preference was to use Newent Fire Station and that the next stage would be looking into the details with the police for its shared use.
It was explained that there would be no cost implications for GCC or GFRS for the shared use of Newent Fire Station; there would be no change of identity to the fire station; and no impact on operations for GFRS from the station. The shared use of the premises would also generate an income from the police.
The Cabinet Member for Fire, Community Safety and Libraries gave his support to the shared use of Newent Fire Station. He explained that the station had been shared with the ambulance service in the past and therefore with minor works an area of the station could be made fit for purpose for use by the constabulary. He added that Newent had suffered since the closure of its police station, with the police currently based in the library, and therefore it would be appropriate to proceed as a good facility for the police and to further fire and police collaboration.
One member requested that the full assessments for each station be provided.
Another member asked whether there were any plans to share the use of any more stations, and asked what happens with the capital money saved from the closing down of local police stations?
In response it was explained that the police contributed full capital investment to make an area in a fire station suitable for their use. It was added that discussions with police were ongoing on the use of further shared premises however each station would need to be explored regarding its suitability for use by the constabulary.
The member continued to ask whether it was important to be proactive, rather than reactive, with the development of joint premises?
In response, it was explained that as part of the Fire Cover Review, there would be an analysis on fire station locations. Should it be discovered that locations were in the wrong places, conversations would be held with partners on the location of stations going forward and as to their collaborative use.
Another member asked for further detail as to why Dursley Fire Station was no longer being considered for use by the constabulary? In response it was explained that since the report to this Committee was written, the costings and space at the station had been assessed, and it was decided that there was not enough space to accommodate the police vehicles at the station. The costings and space were now being assessed at Newent Fire Station, where the police would be using the area previously accommodated by the ambulance service. It was also understood that Winchcombe Fire Station was being considered for use as a police point, accommodated by one police officer and one vehicle.
One member queried what the next stage was for these projects and requested confirmation that there would be no need for a secure unit at these fire stations for use by the police.
It was explained, in response, that there were no plans for secure units, and that the police were keen to progress with Newent Fire Station sooner rather than later.
It was requested that progress with the shared use of Newent and Winchcombe Fire Stations be presented to the Committee in six months’ time.
One member commented that at Cirencester, the police would be needing a new base, and queried whether the fire station on the ring road could become a blue light constabulary base?
It was explained, in response, that Cirencester Fire Station had been considered by the police for the second time in the last six months, however it was determined that it would not accommodate the amount of staff and vehicles required, and would require redevelopment. They were therefore considering other options first.
Another member expressed the view that Newent Fire Station would be an ideal place for collaborative use and asked whether it would be a flagship station?
In response it was stated that it would not be. Previously the police had shared the use of Lydney Fire Station before finding an alternative premise.
It was queried whether the police would contribute to the payment of utilities. In response it was agreed that they would, just as the ambulance service at Dursley Fire Station pay GFRS lease as well. It was added that Audit would expect a clear outline of costs to each service using a joint facility.
One member suggested that it could be useful to organise a visit to the fire stations.
The report was noted by the Committee.