‘Blue light hub’ for police, fire and ambulance services in Ipswich is backed by police commissioner
- Credit: Su Anderson
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has given his enthusiastic backing to proposals to develop a “blue light hub” near Ipswich town centre – probably on the site of the current Princes Street Fire Station.
The proposal is one of the elements of the proposed changes to the fire service which were unveiled by the county council earlier this week.
The new centre would be a town centre fire station – but would also serve as a police station and could possibly also be a base for ambulances.
Mr Passmore said he had had very early discussions with councillors and officials from the county – but the idea of using a joint station was certainly something he would like to pursue.
He said: “This is just the kind of thing we are seeing elsewhere in Suffolk and if we could come together with a base like this in Ipswich town centre it would make a great deal of sense. There is still a long way to go, but it is something we are working on with the county council and I hope a firm proposal emerges in due course.”
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The prospect of creating a joint station either at Princes Street or elsewhere in the town is being flagged up in the county council’s consultation on proposed changes to the fire service.
This would also see the number of fire stations based in the town centre cut from three (two full-time and one on-call crew) to one full-time crew.
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If that goes ahead the current large station at Princes Street, which was built in the 1980s, would not longer be needed.
The county council is also proposing to cut one of two on-call fire appliances based at the Ipswich East station at Ransomes, and one appliance each from Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, and Lowestoft South. Wrentham fire station, between Lowestoft and Southwold, would close altogether.
The county’s cabinet is due to discuss the proposal next Tuesday and is likely to give the go-ahead for a further consultation from the middle of this month through to February on the specific proposals aimed at saving £1.3million from the fire service’s £22m budget.
The final decision about changes to the fire service – which would see the number of appliances fall from 47 to 40 and the closure of one of the 35 fire stations – is likely to be taken by the county’s cabinet in April or May next year, with any changes being implemented during 2017/18.