Posted on 4th December 2014
A landmark decision for the go-ahead of a new shared HQ for Derbyshire Constabulary and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service took a giant leap forward earlier today (Thursday, 4 December).
Following a decision earlier this year to develop plans for a new Joint Headquarters Building in partnership with the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles along with his Strategic Governance Board members signalled approval of the joint proposal, to be overseen by a new Partnership and it is now ‘all systems go’ for the new venture in line with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s agreement just a few hours earlier.
Both meetings included details of how the building is expected to progress on the current police headquarters’ site at Ripley and how it will be managed through a joint police and fire partnership.
“After many months of hard work and negotiations on both sides, I am delighted that this purpose-built building is on its way to becoming a reality,” Commissioner Charles said. “We really had to do something radical as two of our existing police buildings at the HQ at Ripley are coming to the end of their useful life. Through true partnership working, our two critical emergency services have been closely involved working side-by-side in planning a tailor-made headquarters to suit both our future needs.
“Sharing headquarters with the Fire & Rescue Service in this way will allow both our organisations to adapt more easily to change and improve our ways of working, including making best use of technological advancements that are so important to efficiency.
“At the same time, we will be able to work more closely together – a significant advantage in many emergency situations as well as being of benefit to Derbyshire taxpayers.”
It has been agreed that fire and police staff carrying out similar functions will from the outset be working alongside each other in the new building, enabling them to share best practice and have access to each other’s expertise when situations require.
After the ‘green light’ was given by both organisations, the first Board meeting of the new Limited Liability Partnership was held to establish their project partnership agreement, review time scales and award a contract that will see the first stage of site preparation early next year. Completion of the building is expected by December 2016. The partnership Board comprises representatives from the Commissioner’s Office, the Constabulary, the Fire and Rescue Authority and Fire and Rescue Service, with 50/50 voting rights for Police and Fire respectively.
Mr Charles said doing nothing is not an option, the existing Police buildings could very quickly become unsafe for use without major remedial work. Although the new build will be slightly more expensive initially over the life cycle of the building this decision represents far better value for money.
Councillor Roland Hosker – Chair of Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “This move will allow DFRS and Derbyshire Police to work more closely together to help both organisations deliver further financial efficiencies in the longer term, as well as protecting and enhancing community safety.
“DFRS’s current Headquarters is no longer fit for purpose and restricts the opportunities to develop new and more efficient ways of working. This joint project will see the delivery of a modern, bespoke joint headquarters that will enable greater collaboration between our two organisations to improve both interoperability and efficiency.
“I’m really pleased that that both the Communities for Local Government department (CLG) and the Government’s Treasury Investment committee recognised the strength of our business case, in their awarding DFRS £1.5 million Transformation Grant funding to support the development of this innovative joint venture. This along with the sale of our existing headquarters site at Littleover, Derby will go a long way to funding our share of the project.”
The Commissioner will apply to the Home Office for funding from its Innovation Fund. Projected timescales for the project include tendering for the major contract in January and February 2015 and starting the main contract at the end of April. Occupation of the new building is projected for the end of February 2017.
Chief Constable Mick Creedon said: “I fully support the decision made by the Commissioner. It will enable us to forge closer links with the fire service to the benefit of people across Derbyshire. We know this is a massive investment but one that is needed for the long term efficiency of our two organisations. Our prudent financial planning has enabled us to set aside money that will meet a large share of the costs of the new building. It will also play a part in helping us to deliver future savings to help balance our budget in the future.”