Fire and rescue service considering move to police Headquarters

Work will begin to consider the viability of Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) sharing Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Headquarters at Portishead.

At a meeting on Friday 5 February, Members of Avon Fire Authority gave approval for officers to formally explore the option with the police.  The decision makes it increasingly likely that Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s Headquarters will be co-located with the constabulary at their Portishead base.

AF&RS’s launched its Investing for the Future project in 2014 with the aim of making annual savings of £4.5 million. The plan included proposals to vacate the current Headquarters site at Temple Back, Bristol, due to the costs of maintaining the building. In order to maintain an operational base in the city centre a new fire station is being built on part of the land, but three sites were identified as potential locations to house support functions.

At last week’s meeting Members were asked to give an agreement in principle for a full plan to be worked up on building a new Headquarters at Keynsham or Emersons Green, or moving into existing buildings at Police Headquarters.

Following a lengthy debate Members voted in preference of the option to share with the police, but requested ‘desktop’ reports were compiled in the background on the other two options.

Chairman of Avon Fire Authority, Councillor Peter Abraham, said: “Faced with a further four years of reductions in Government funding, Members were under no illusion of the financial challenges this Service faces.

“The opportunity to co-locate with the police at Portishead makes sense financially and also allows us to collaborate even more closely with our colleagues in the police.

“Moving to Portishead is our preferred option and we have asked officers to provide a detailed report for our next meeting at which we hope to be able to give final approval.”

During Friday’s meeting Members of Avon Fire Authority also set the fire precept for 2016/2017 Council Tax. 

For an average Band D property householders will be asked to pay £67.93 a year, an increase of £1.33, or less than 3p a week, on the previous year.

Councillor Abraham said: “As an Authority we always give extremely careful thought before making an increase in our precept. Despite this increase Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s precept remains among the lowest in the country, costing the average household around £1.31 a week.”