A SHARED police and fire station in Hereford could be built as part of redevelopment plans for the city’s Merton Meadow off Edgar Street.

 This morning (Fri) both West Mercia Police and Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Service confirmed that they were looking to develop a site “north of the football stadium” as an “innovative shared facility”.

Both services will continue to work with Herefordshire Council on a site suitability assessment.

The fire service says the Bath Street site of Hereford’s former working boys home – currently council offices – is no longer an option for a new station.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer John Hodges said: “We have found working in close collaboration with our colleagues at the police on this exciting project to be very fruitful. We already have a very successful joint police and fire station in Bromsgrove and officers from both organisations have found real benefits in working alongside each other.

"It gives us greater joint training opportunities and helps us improve the management of incidents and ultimately the ability to deliver a better service to the public that we serve. It also is an excellent use of scarce resources in the current climate of reduced budgets.

“We are currently at the stage of carrying out feasibility studies into the Edgar Street site, so the project is in its early days. We will update the public with any further developments.”

West Mercia police and crime commissioner Bill Longmore said he was “very pleased” to see the project moving forward.

“It's a new way of working, but I am a big supporter of a partnership approach - it will improve both services be financially beneficial,” he said.

In March, the Hereford Times revealed that talks over a shared police/fire station in the city were underway between senior officers from both services.

That month, a policy and resources meeting of Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Authority (HWFRA) was told that undisclosed “preferred option” offered space for a fire station and training facility.

Before the site could be pitched publically, though, practicalities such as the ability for retained fire fighters to reach it within target attendance times had to be investigated.

That same meeting heard confirmation of site share talks with the police.

Hereford’s present fire station in St Owen Street is acknowledged as unfit for 21st century service.

The extensive refurbishment required is not seen by HWFRA as viable at an estimated cost of £5.5 million including the setting up of a temporary fire station while the work was done.

A new police HQ to replace the present space-squeezed base in Bath Street has long been on the agenda.

Faced with resistance from heritage campaigners, the fire service pulled out of its own move to Bath Street and the site of the city’s old working boys home that the council is vacating as offices.

The council and the fire service had reached a deal over the future for the site that saw the council getting the current fire station site in a land swap.

Alternatives put to the fire service at the time were disregarded as unsuitable.

The council has confirmed that the current County Bus Station off Commercial Road will not be available for development in the near future.

Several sites - including others in the Edgar Street area - have been investigated since the start of the year, some privately owned.

The council has pitched alternative sites of its own.

Senior fire service officers have also liaised with a local land agent to identify opportunities.

As reported by the Hereford Times, the new fire station would need meet the criteria of a new shift pattern that keeps full-time 24-7 999 cover in the county.

HWFRA has backed the new pattern called “Day Crew Plus” as a response to proposed - and strongly opposed - service cuts that would have cost Hereford station one of its two full-time appliances.

At its simplest, the pattern has day cover provided by two full-time crews with the second crew then “living in” at the station on call overnight.