Fire stations could be shared with police under vision to combine Hertfordshire emergency services
PUBLISHED: 15:49 28 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:39 28 June 2017
Fire and police services in St Albans and across Hertfordshire could be made to share facilities in a new vision to combine the area’s emergency services.
However opposition councillors fear police and crime commissioner (PCC) David Lloyd’s bid to take over the running the fire and rescue service could mean fire stations in St Albans and elsewhere could close.
Mr Lloyd’s office has said there are no current plans to close St Albans fire station and that he is currently consulting on the changes.
Mr Lloyd said: “I believe it makes sense for the fire and police service to work more closely together.”
He stressed it would mean that operational matters would be handled by the chief fire officer but said: “Having joint governance improves efficiency, provides exciting opportunities for collaborating and making the best use of our existing resources.
“By bringing the strategy and governance closer, it will speed up the pace of better collaboration between all our emergency services.”
The PCC’s report claims shared police and fire buildings - or “community safety hubs” - could stop money being moved from the fire service to other council projects, save £4m in revenue, and raise between £3.9m and £12.5m.
However opposition politicians fear fire stations such as St Albans could be closed as part of the process.
Liberal Democrat county councillor Paul Zukowskyj said: “This hostile take-over has to be stopped.
“David Lloyd has virtually completed his asset-stripping of the police, including overseeing the loss of more than 300 police posts across the county since 2012 and closing numerous police station front desks.”
Cllr Zukowskyj now believes Mr Lloyd “wants to do the same asset stripping to our fire service”.
The councillor added: “We need the services of a dedicated fire service, as we have seen recently with the terror attacks and now the fire in Grenfell Tower.”
Mr Lloyd recently decided to sell the St Albans police station site to St Albans council, which intends to incorporate it into their civic centre opportunity site.
“The old building wasn’t suitable for modern day policing, whereas this development will deliver ongoing revenue for us to spend on local policing,” he said.
County council cabinet member for community protection, Terry Hone, said: “The existing service is much more than just an emergency service and having firefighters working closely alongside other council staff like social workers, public health specialists and trading standards makes a huge difference to keeping our residents healthy and safe. We will review the PCC’s proposals and look at the best options for Hertfordshire residents in terms of both service quality and financial impact.”