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Fire Authority committed to collaboration despite decision to press ahead with new fire station hub

Members of the Fire Authority’s Policy and Resources Committee today (July 21) agreed that in September they would sign to purchase land on the St John’s Wood site in Huntingdon to build a new combined fire station, training centre and headquarters.

Plans to move to the St John’s Wood site had been progressing well but a last minute offer of land within the compounds of the current police headquarters was made by Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Jason Ablewhite which members agreed in June needed to be looked at in more detail.

Members reconvened today to discuss the formal proposal by Mr Ablewhite. Members discussed the information available to them in the proposal at great length and were able to ask Mr Ablewhite questions, as he has attended to present his paper.

Chairman of committee Councillor Lucy Nethsinga said: “Whilst it was extremely useful to discuss the ideas the Police and Crime Commissioner has for development sites which might be available on police land, the Authority was not presented with sufficient information to make an informed decision about his suggestions. Our decision clearly sets out our intention to press ahead with the St John’s Wood site. This has been carefully considered from a financial and operational perspective; however today’s decision leaves the door open for the Police and Crime Commissioner to come back to us before September with a fully costed and evidenced based proposal.”

Members also heard about the collaboration already ongoing within the fire service with the police and other organisations. The list included:

  • Agreements with police and the ambulance service to use offices and bay areas in fire stations
  • The Safer Peterborough Partnership, where a fire officer is co-located with police, Peterborough City Council and others to tackle local community based risks and issues
  • Sharing data with local authorities to protect the elderly and vulnerable
  • Co-responding with the ambulance service
  • A combined ICT team with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • A combined fire control with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service 
  • A number of tactical joint operations at community level such as Operation Pheasant to tackle the problems of exploitation, fraud, crime and conditions of private rented housing
  • Working with Adult Social care to develop home fire safety visits into more general safe and wellbeing visits.

Chairman of the Fire Authority Sir Peter Brown said: “The fire service has always sought collaboration to improve its service to the community and utilise its resources in the most cost effective way to deliver its own responsibilities and help partners where possible too, especially to further protect vulnerable people.

“There are many questions still to be answered regarding the proposal to move to land on the police site and we had to balance this with the risk of losing a site that we have spent a lot time and money proving would be well suited to our needs.

“We are still fully committed to continuing to work with our colleagues in the police to look at other opportunities to collaborate further and we are setting up a strategic board to investigate areas where we can do this.”