THE fire station in Newent will become one of the first in the county to double up as base for police officers.

The go-ahead for the duel use of the station on Bridge Street was confirmed at a meeting of Gloucestershire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Scrutiny Committee last Friday (November 11).

It means locals can expect to see an increased police presence in the town, with the old Newent station having closed in 2011.

A feasibility study into fire stations which have the potential to be used by police was carried out earlier this year, and Newent was identified as one of the most promising locations.

Officers have occupied a ‘police point’ in Newent Library over the last decade, so the use of the fire station was deemed a “significant improvement” for police presence.

The council says the move will see better facilities made available to police, as well as closer working with the fire service to tackle issues like anti-social behaviour and road safety.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner and Forest of Dean District Councillor Nick Evans, who made the announcement at Friday’s scrutiny meeting, said: “This is a huge step forward in working together with our colleagues in the County Council and GFRS to make our county safer.

“Our Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson promised to expand the visibility and presence of police in more of our communities, particularly rural areas, by making better use of publicly owned buildings, and collaborating with the fire service.

“This shows we mean business and are delivering on that promise.

“Work has already begun to look at other areas where it makes operational sense for similar collaborations to take place, adding to the existing footprint of police buildings.

“With regular and volunteer officers working from these new stations, there will be a very visible operational impact that will be felt by our communities.”

The old Newent police station was closed along with those in Lydney and Cinderford amid an £18 million budget reduction for Gloucestershire Constabulary in the early part of the 2010s.

The force says the new station will serve as a base for officers between patrols and for pre-arranged appointments with the public and other agencies.

It is also thought the move will help improve the security at the station following a burglary back in 2020 in which life-saving hydraulic rescue equipment was stolen.

Cllr Dave Norman, cabinet member with responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service, said: “I fully support collaboration between our fire and rescue service and police partners.

“I am pleased to see that the feasibility has been scrutinised appropriately and that Newent and Winchcombe Community Fire Stations are able to provide a base for the police officers to operate out of collaboratively whilst continuing to provide valuable community services.

“The co-location will be at no additional cost to Gloucestershire County Council.

“It is important we maintain high quality, accessible services whilst ensuring value for money for the residents of Newent and Winchcombe.”

Mark Preece, chief fire officer at Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We have a very close working relationship with Gloucestershire Police and are extremely pleased that they will move into our Community Fire Stations in Newent and Winchcombe with us.

“We looked at six of our stations across the county with both Newent and Winchcombe’s feasibility to co-locate successful.

“We currently have the Ambulance Service based at some of our community fire stations and this is a further step in our commitment to blue light collaboration.”

“We will always seek out opportunities to collaborate with other Blue Light Services to provide the best possible service to our communities.”