Fire service ‘prefer’ Portishead base move

PUBLISHED: 09:06 10 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:06 10 February 2016

Valley Road could become home for Avon Fire and Rescue Service and Avon and Somerset Constabulary in the coming years.

Valley Road could become home for Avon Fire and Rescue Service and Avon and Somerset Constabulary in the coming years.

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Avon Fire and Rescue Service is keen to move its headquarters from Bristol city centre to share facilities with the police in Portishead in a bid to save millions of pounds.

The Avon Fire Authority (AFA) voted on Friday to select the site in Valley Road as the ‘preferred option’ as it looks to move out of its Bristol home at Temple Back.

Other options considered by Avon Fire and Rescue Service were a £9million new base at Emersons Green and setting up a hub in Keynsham, but the authority believes Portishead is the best site.

Early talks with the police have been positive and the proposed deal would save the fire service at least £8million.

The importance of that saving has never been more apparent, with the organisation aiming to save £4.5million every year.

However, the proposed move has not proved universally popular with staff who face being relocated and the fire service will pay their additional transport costs for three years to ease the transition.

Should the move be agreed it would take about one year for the fire service to be ready to transfer everything to Portishead.

Peter Abraham, chairman of AFA, said: “Faced with a further four years of reductions in Government funding, members were under no illusion of the financial challenges this service faces.”

Cllr Abraham added: “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.”

With the project in its infancy, AFA has refused to completely rule out the sites in Keynsham or Emmerson’s Green, however Portishead is the overwhelmingly likely destination for the service’s new headquarters.

In an online poll run last week, 71 per cent of readers felt Portishead was the best place for the fire service to be based.

The fire service’s current headquarters is bigger than it needs and is in a prime area of Bristol and therefore is likely to be sold for a large amount.

* For the full story, see today’s (Wednesday’s) Times.

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