Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Concern over Hampshire police and fire services' shared HQ

Fire service's Leigh Road base in Eastleigh Image copyright Peter Facey
Image caption Hampshire Constabulary plans to have its strategic headquarters at the fire service's Leigh Road base in Eastleigh

A firefighters' union has expressed concern about services being "watered down" if facilities in Hampshire are shared with police.

The police and fire service plan to share headquarters in a bid to improve joint working and save money.

About 100 senior police officers and staff would move into new facilities at the fire service's Leigh Road base in Eastleigh.

Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes is behind the proposal.

Nigel McCullen, brigade chair of the Hampshire branch of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said the union had concerns over the details.

He said: "We agree with modernisation in the right way but what we are concerned about is if there's a degradation in the fire service and the police force.

"What we don't want is a watering down of services."

£12m financial gap

The organisations already share facilities at Redbridge, Alresford and Stockbridge fire stations.

Mr Hayes said the plan was part of his strategy to ensure "the police's estate is cost-effective and fit for purpose despite significant economic challenges".

Mr McCullen said the union would arrange a meeting with fire and police chiefs to discuss the details of the plans.

Potential problems, he said, could include a lack of space to train firefighters and not enough parking spaces.

Hampshire Fire Authority chairman Royston Smith said the plan would help tackle the authority's "£12m financial gap over the next five years".

He added the partnership would "increase occupancy rates of currently under-utilised buildings" and "enable us to protect jobs and the service we provide".

Hampshire Constabulary has received £1m from the Home Office's Police Innovation Fund towards the move, proposed for autumn 2015.

The force's operational headquarters will remain in Winchester.

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