THE Policing and Fire Minister Nick Hurd MP has given his support to plans for closer links between Gloucestershire’s Police and Fire and Rescue Services.

He also asked the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for regular updates on progress in Gloucestershire.

It follows preliminary discussions between PCC Martin Surl and Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) member with responsibility for fire, planning and infrastructure Nigel Moor on how the two services might look in the future.

An 18-point plan was put forward by the PCC for discussion with GCC.

The proposals include work to provide a ‘Tri Service Centre' in Cirencester, developing all retained fire stations as ‘Tri Service Centres’, a joint control room for both police and fire, a merger of vehicle workshops, shared Fleet Management, and examining sharing assets like specialist equipment such as lighting / lifts / off-road vehicles etc.

In a letter to the PCC, Mr Hurd said, “The Government wants to see greater pace and ambition in emergency services collaboration and we are committed to supporting Police and Crime Commissioners in seeking greater involvement in the governance of fire and rescue.

“I welcome the work you have done with P.A.Consulting and I am encouraged that the report has identified a number of benefits that could be driven by a change in governance of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, including areas such as estates, community safety and transparency.”

Mr Surl said: “The groundwork for some of the areas where we could work more closely together has already been done but not completed, like the tri-service centre which still has separate control rooms for both the police and fire.

"The workshops too are on the same site but operate under separate managements.

“We could also develop retained fire stations as emergency centres. This would improve visibility and help reduce feelings of isolation in rural communities.

“Some of the things I hope we can achieve through a closer relationship have already been done successfully in other parts of the country and I am encouraged by the county council’s desire for greater collaboration that will enable us to do just as well.

“But key to any future collaboration is a clear understanding of the financial parameters in which we work and that will require a budget paper which clarifies the fire precept along with the services’ medium-term fiscal plan. The equivalent for the Police is readily available.

“I hope it might also be possible to include the ambulance service in our planning at some stage too.”