Suffolk’s latest joint fire and police station is fully operational – with the project set to save taxpayers money.
Felixstowe fire station in High Road West has been specially adapted to accommodate both firefighters and police officers, but the creation of the £524,000 shared base now leaves a question mark over the future of the town’s old police station.
The building is one of seven in east Suffolk which is earmarked for conversion or demolition.
The property in Glenfield Avenue could be converted for homes, while Aldeburgh’s police station is likely to be demolished, and Leiston’s could become flats in a conversion similar to that approved for Woodbridge’s. In Framlingham consent was given for almshouses, Saxmundham’s is to become a community hub, and Beccles is also to have a shared base.
The police and fire service now have seven shared centres in the county – Woodbridge, Ixworth, Elmswell, Clare, Debenham, and Framlingham are the others.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I am absolutely delighted to see another shared base for police and fire in the county and particularly pleased that we were able to secure additional Government funding to finance the project.
“Working together with other blue-light services is absolutely key to meeting the financial challenges that we face.
“The existing shared stations across the county are working really well and we are seeing the benefits of reduced operating costs and improved joint working between our two key emergency services. I am committed to building on this shared working over the coming years.”
Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection, joined Mr Passmore for the official opening.
He said: “We have already seen benefits in developing ‘blue light’ stations with our partners in the police and the ambulance service in Suffolk.
“It saves the public purse the cost of running multiple buildings and enables emergency services to work closely together in supporting the community they serve. The sharing of facilities has also opened up further opportunities to collaborate in areas of service delivery, improving efficiencies and engagement with members of the public .”
The Felixstowe centre includes a new purpose built office accommodation for the police, improved facilities for staff and the town council CCTV system, facilities for community groups and local residents to hold meetings and dedicated police and fire parking for operational vehicles.
The base, designed by Concertus and built by Brooks and Wood Ltd, accommodates a team of on-call firefighters and the Police Local Safer Neighbourhood Team along with CCTV monitoring volunteers.
Saxmundham’s shared base is the next to be completed and officially opens on August 14, while and Newmarket is scheduled to complete by the end of the year.
In addition to the projects at Beccles and Leiston, a joint station is planned for Stowmarket along with some further sharing opportunities of functions in Ipswich.