Bids in to build police firearms centre

THREE bidders are in the running for a big money contract to build three new custody centres and a firearms training base for Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

The force is weighing up three options for its ambitious multi-million-pound accommodation programme.

The changes will see a state-of-the-art firearms training centre built at Black Rock Quarry in Valley Road, Portishead, and custody services centralised at three district hubs.

Police chiefs say the move, largely funded by private finance initiatives, will modernise the force, reduce bureaucracy and free officers to spend more time on the streets.

Dr Peter Heffer, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Police Authority, said: “Investment in our buildings is an investment in the long term future of policing in Avon and Somerset.

“When we invest in our people that includes giving them safe and efficient working environments.

“The review of accommodation… is designed to ensure that we have the right buildings in the right place to support the best possible policing service for the next three decades and more.

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“Despite being the second most underfunded force in the country, prudent financial management and responsible long term planning have allowed us to make this once in a lifetime investment in the future.”

The three short-listed firms will present detailed blueprints in May, with the contract due to be awarded next February.

This would allow building to begin next summer, and an opening date for the new sites pencilled in for 2014.