Fire station overhaul moves step closerg

A MULTI-million pound overhaul of Suffolk's fire service, including the building of several new stations, will move a step nearer at the end of the month if councillors back plans for a private finance initiative.

By Graham Dines

A MULTI-million pound overhaul of Suffolk's fire service, including the building of several new stations, will move a step nearer at the end of the month if councillors back plans for a private finance initiative.

With the county's Colchester Road-based control room in Ipswich due to be absorbed in 2009 into a new six-county regional fire and rescue centre on the outskirts of Cambridge, the county council has been looking for a private sector partner to take over its fire stations and pump in cash to upgrade the buildings.

A detailed financial case has to be submitted to the Government by the end of next March, and if the council's Cabinet gives the go-ahead, negotiations will start with the Land Group, the county's preferred PFI bidder.


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The Land Group would build any new stations and maintain them and the others in the county for the duration of the contract - 25 to 30 years - and then all the assets will be returned to the county council.

Under the plans, new five-bay fire stations will be built at Colchester Road in Ipswich and at South Lowestoft, and one bay retained fire stations will be provided in South Lowestoft, Hadleigh, Needham Market, Clare and Nayland.

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Ipswich's Princes Street station will be closed and moved to a new location nearer the A12 and a replacement training centre will be built near Ipswich.

In a report to the Cabinet meeting, project director Chris Garlick says: “Where revised fire locations will be required, the opportunity will be taken to relocate these in a position so further reduce risk to the public.

“For example, the relocation of the whole time fire station at Lowestoft will allow quicker access to the A12 and will ensure crews attend road collisions more quickly than we are currently able to from the existing location.”

Details of exact locations will be revealed in the first week of November when planning applications have to be lodged and advertised in time for the planning permission to be considered at a meeting of the county's Development Control Committee on January 25.

Joanna Spicer, portfolio holder for public protection, said the project would allow Suffolk to attract “substantial” central government funding which was only available through PFI.

It would finance the “construction of new fire stations, the refurbishment of existing facilities and ensure the long-term provision of facilities.

“It will directly support improved safety services to the public of Suffolk from a modernised property estate for a 25-30 year period,” said Mrs Spicer.

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