FOLLOWING an agreement between fire and police services, Avon Fire and Rescue Service will be moving into police headquarters in Portishead.

Approved by the Avon Fire Authority, the move to Avon and Somerset Police’s base is expected to take place in the next 12 months.

The proposals were first discussed in February when AFA members asked officers to explore the option of the fire service co-locating with the police in Portishead.

Following detailed discussions between the two emergency services the move was given the go-ahead at a meeting of Avon Fire Authority on Friday, July 22.

Around 60 members of Avon Fire and Rescue’s support staff, along with senior operational managers and board members will make the move to North Somerset. The service will utilise existing offices at the Valley Road site, but will retain its independence.

The move is part of Avon Fire and Rescue’s cost saving programme launched in 2014 with the aim of making annual savings of £4.5 million. It was agreed that the current headquarters site at Temple Back in central Bristol would be vacated due to the on-going costs of maintaining the building.

The service will retain an operational base at Temple Back with the building of a new fire station on part of the site. Construction work on the new Temple Fire Station is currently underway and expected to be completed in the autumn.

Councillor Peter Abraham, chairman of Avon Fire Authority, said: “The opportunity to co-locate with the police at Portishead makes sense both financially and because it provides the opportunity for even closer collaboration between the services.

“We will now begin the detailed planning which will see around 60 members of our support staff making the move to the new headquarters. We will take with us experienced and valued members of staff who play a fundamental role in keeping the frontline service going.

“Our site at Temple Back had become increasingly costly to maintain so this is an opportunity to significantly reduce overheads and provide our staff with a modern office that reflects current needs.

Councillor Abraham added: “Although Avon Fire and Rescue Service will maintain its own identity at the police headquarters site, there is no doubt that co-locating will pave the way for much closer collaboration between the two organisations.

“The Government has indicated its desire to see blue light services working more closely together; as a modern and progressive service we are proud to be leading that change.”

Avon and Somerset police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I am delighted that Avon Fire Authority has made the decision to join us and re-locate to police headquarters in Portishead.

“We have capacity to share our office space and operating out of one base enables us to work more collaboratively. I will continue to actively look at collaborations that help reduce over-sized and under used police buildings in order to focus funding on police officers and PCSO’s.”