Suffolk’s police HQ could move from Martlesham and police and fire bases could be amalgamated to save money

The combined Debenham fire and police station - could the same thing be done elsewhere in the county

The combined Debenham fire and police station - could the same thing be done elsewhere in the county? - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s police headquarters could be relocated to new premises in the county under radical cost saving measures being considered by the force commissioner.

Tim Passmore

Tim Passmore - Credit: Archant

Tim Passmore said he is investigating a number of ways to meet budget constraints including moving the current Martlesham HQ and creating a further seven shared police and fire stations in the county.

Speaking at Framlingham Town Council’s meeting on Thursday the Police and Crime Commissioner said Suffolk’s current headquarters were “hopeless when it comes to costs” and “leaks energy like a sieve”.

However he assured councillors that the facility would remain in Suffolk, near Ipswich, and there would be no move to Norfolk.

“There are real differences between Suffolk and Norfolk and we would end up with a major problem if that happened,” he added.

“Bigger is not always better – whatever we do we do not want to lose local policing.

“There’s no way I would sit here as Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner and allow that.”

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The possible move comes after the government said it was axing up to £17million from Suffolk Constabulary’s £125million budget over the next four years.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Passmore said he was looking at “absolutely everything” the force spent money on to “make sure it’s as effective and efficient as it can possibly be.”

He said: “Some of the older buildings suffer from ‘maintenance backlog’ and so we get to the stage where we have to ask, ‘do we continue spending our money on it or we look elsewhere?’”

“If we can find somewhere else and the sums add up and it’s better for the tax payer and better operationally then we will look into it.”

He also highlighted a £5million government grant that had been provided to Suffolk Constabulary and Suffolk Fire and Rescue to create more shared bases in the county.

Police and fire stations have already been shared in Ixworth, Elmswell, Debenham and Framlimngham. The new money will support a further seven shared schemes in Felixstowe, Beccles, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Mildenhall and Saxmundham over the next two to three years. Work has already started in Woodbridge.

Mr Passmore said: “There’s a lot of sense in linking these things up – I think it’s quite exciting.”

A more ambitious model, which would see the fire and police services share one control room and call handling system, is also being considered.

The scheme is about to be piloted in Northampton shire and Mr Passmore said it could be a “tremendous opportunity” for Suffolk.

Despite the budget pressures, Mr Passmore has made assurances that the situation is “not all doom and gloom” and stressed that the county was well positioned to cope.