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Suffolk reveals £3.9m shared services base

Plans for a shared police and fire station have been announced by Suffolk Constabulary. With pressure on forces to reduce estate costs, shared sites could be a way forward.

Plans for the £3.9m project have been revealed including a dedicated office for the local Policing team and the Serious Collision Investigation Team who are all currently based in an existing police station.

Other features at the site in Stowmarket will include an outdoor training area and roof top photovoltaic panels to support reduction in fossil fuel usage.

There are 11 shared police and fire service locations across Suffolk. The two services are sharing the cost and government funding has also been secured for its development. Police forces are under pressure from central government to reduce the size of their estates as a way of cutting costs and generating extra funding by selling land to developers.

Pressure on affordable housing in Suffolk is significant due to London buyers and the rural nature of many areas so building new facilities is complex and expensive.

Sites shared with Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service also enable better joint working and information sharing on the local area. There is also potential at the site for a collaboration with East of England Ambulance Service for a drop-in facility for ambulance crews.

The next stage is for the plans to go out for public consultation and Suffolk County Council has already signalled it will support the plans.

Councillor Richard Rout, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “Our partnership to share property with public sector partners in Suffolk has grown into a great success. Our plans to develop and improve Stowmarket Fire Station will help us provide staff with modern facilities and allow us to work closely with other emergency services in a cost-effective way.”

With budget pressures likely to continue despite uplift funding, shared bases are set to continue.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Working together is absolutely key to meeting the financial challenges that we face. I am very pleased with the existing shared stations across the county; it saves money and improves the joint working of these two-key blue-light services. The public’s view on this initiative is important and I look forward to hearing their views.”

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