LOCALS could soon see an increased police presence in Newent after the possibility of using the town’s fire station as a base for officers was deemed promising in a study.
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) recently commissioned a feasibility study across six fire stations which have the potential to be used by police.
And a report presented to Gloucestershire County Councillors says that Newent Fire Station was one of the two most promising options identified in the study.
The report said the use of the fire station would be a significant improvement for police, who have occupied a police point at the town’s library since the closure of the old Newent station in 2011.
It also found various opportunities for office accommodation, parking, ease of access and a visible presence in an area that was previously occupied by the ambulance service.
It also said there would be no impact on the operational areas for the fire service, and an increased police presence would also improve security at the station following a break-in in 2020.
The other fire station deemed promising for co-working was in Dursley, with the survey also looking at stations in Stroud, Stow, Cirencester and Winchcombe.
Fire, community safety and libraries cabinet member Cllr Dave Norman (Con, Grange and Kingsway) said he was fully supportive of more collaboration with other emergency services.
“We’ve always wanted to work collaboratively with the constabulary and under the 2017 Act there is a duty to cooperate which the previous police and crime commissioner would not do”, he said.
“But thankfully we are now in a situation where we have a police and crime commissioner who is looking as collaboratively as he can.
“Clearly, if the fire and rescue service has facilities that it can make available for the residents in those towns where there is a possible collaborative approach to community engagement with blue light services, I’m 100 per cent behind it.”
The old Newent Police Station closed amid an £18 million budget reduction for Gloucestershire Constabulary in the early part of the 2010s, which also saw the closure of the Lydney and Cinderford stations in the Forest.
The town’s fire station on Bridge Street was raided by thieves in December 2020, in which life-saving hydraulic rescue equipment was stolen, along with other items, and the station vandalised.
Fire and rescue scrutiny committee chairman Cllr Jeremy Hilton (Lib Dem, Kingshom and Wotton) also welcomed the shared used proposals, saying it would boost cooperative working between the services.
He said: “If they were to share the facilities it would be the responsibility of the police authority for paying for the additional accommodation and there would be an annual rent toward the cost of the facilities.
“The proposals would not be at any additional cost to Gloucestershire County Council.
“It helps with the cooperative working between the emergency services if they can base themselves together.”
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