News : New Call Centre Will Combine Police and Fire Services for First Time
Worcestershire, UK, March 3, 2016 -- Wychavon planners have given the go-ahead for a scheme that represents the first step towards a groundbreaking move for the fire service to work with the police at its Hindlip headquarters.
Your Worcester News has previously reported on the proposed scheme for Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service to join forces with West Mercia and Warwickshire police forces at a new operations and communications centre. In October 2014, the Government also handed the fire authority £1.8 million to fund the cost of moving away from the Charles Hastings Way base to Hindlip Hall, close to Sixways.
In a report, Wychavon planning committee, was told yesterday the new operations and communications centre will employ 332 police staff and officers and 23 fire and rescue staff.
With around 1,000 police officers and staff based at Hindlip, the site is operating above capacity and it is therefore not possible to use any of the existing buildings on the site.
Staff based at the centre would be responsible for a number of duties including call handling, dispatching fire and rescue resources; strategic, tactical and operational planning for fire and police; and co-ordinating all critical and major incidents across Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Warwickshire.
The centre would allow West Merica and Warwickshire police forces to merge their call handling on to one site for the first time.
The single storey centre will be built on a sports field within the grounds of the Grade II listed Hindlip Hall and will include car parking.
The committee was told that the a number of changes had been made to the plans, following meetings with Historic England and the planning department, including reducing the size and height of the proposed building; changing its proposed colour from grey to 'Hessian'; increasing the 'green wall' element; and relocating a proposed haul road to reduce the impact upon the surroundings.
The application was recommended for approval by officers. Although in the Green Belt, a report to the committee said the development would not have a greater impact on the openness of the area and could therefore be allowed.
Councillors were told the scheme was a "critical development", ensuring both the police forces and fire service would be future proof, cost effective and would ultimately help save lives.
When the committee members were asked to speak it quickly became apparent they were in favour of the scheme, their discussions lasting less than 10 minutes.
Lovett and North Claines councillor Tony Miller, described it as a fit for purpose building, and a communications centre that everyone could require at some point.
"I am pleased to see it go forward," he added.
South Bredon Hill councillor, Adrian Darby, raised that the Grade II listed Georgian manor house, Hindlip Hall on the site would suffer harm, but said this was less than substantial. He adding he was also happy with the proposal.
Before moving it to the vote chairman of the committee, Paul Middlebrough, called on Bill Longmore, the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, to consider supporting a scheme for sports facilities nearby - as there were once facilities at the Hindlip Park site for community use.
He added this wasn’t to be added as a condition, just a message he hoped the commissioner would consider.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2016