Shared blue light hubs will be new trend

Wigan Fire Station
Wigan Fire Station
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WIGAN’S sharing of emergency services headquarters could be a template followed across the country as part of cost-cutting plans.

Policing and fire minister Mike Penning said last week “it simply doesn’t make sense” for 999 services to have different premises and IT systems.

This follows the announcement that Wigan borough will be served by a purpose-built fire engine and ambulance hub on the site of the current fire station on Robin Park.

The collaboration plans have been given a cautious welcome.

Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “Better collaboration between the fire and police services is something we have been working on for a long time and will accelerate under the devolution agenda and the elected mayor.

“We will always look for appropriate ways that we can work in innovative partnership, but everyone recognises that the police and fire services have very different operational functions and we have no ambitions whatsoever to combine them.”

New legislation will urge more collaboration between blue light services and the shake-up could also see PCCs take over responsibility for fire services.

Mr Penning also suggested PCCs could oversee ambulance services. The £3.9m shared hub project in Wigan will see Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) staff working side-by-side.

The current ambulance station, in Pottery Road, will close once the new site opens with work expected to start later this year.

Mr Lloyd added: “Of course, we can and are looking at ways in which we can work together to improve the service for the public.”