The rebuild of a further 11 fire stations in Staffordshire has been given the go-ahead for autumn 2012. The £50 million project initially received unconditional Treasury approval in March; however the new coalition government ordered a review of all Private Finance Initiative projects (PFI) passed by the previous government in 2010. The value for money assessment has now been conducted and the new coalition government has confirmed its commitment to the project.
Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive, Peter Dartford, said: "We are absolutely delighted that we now have the approval for the rebuild of these fire stations reaffirmed. This is great news for both our staff and the communities who will benefit from these new facilities. We were confident that our business case for the project was strong and we have proven experience with our first PFI scheme of delivering to budget, however in these unprecedented economic times we could take nothing for granted.
"The new government clearly has confidence in us successfully delivering this project and they have recognised how these new community focused fire stations support their key priorities. These new facilities will allow us to empower our communities to become safer and stronger, therefore contributing to the government's 'Big Society' vision. Like never before we will be able to engage and educate the community in a positive, interactive way."
Fire Minister, Bob Neill, said: "As part of our commitment to frontline services we are continuing to support the modernisation of the Fire Service.
"Investing in twenty-first century fire stations in the right locations, will help save lives and deliver a service that meets the needs of today's world, welcoming to local communities and offering improved working conditions for our firefighters."
Chairman of the Fire and Rescue Authority, Cllr Len Bloomer, said: "A significant amount of work and effort has already gone into this project, so we are pleased that it can progress as planned.
"In their current state these fire stations are proving costly to maintain and they no longer suit the requirements of the modern, proactive fire and rescue service we have in Staffordshire. So to get this funding has been absolutely crucial."
The three shortlisted bidders for the project are; Blue, Fire Support and Vinci Investments. A preferred bidder is expected to be selected in January 2012, with construction starting on the new fire stations in autumn 2012.
The stations the service is proposing to rebuild are; Burton-upon-Trent, Kinver, Lichfield, Leek, Stone, Chase Terrace, Rugeley, Codsall, Penkridge, Ashley and in a recent addition to the project, Longton. Outline planning approval has been received on all proposed stations, and the service has held consultation events at all stations.
The news comes as the service is mid-way through construction of its first PFI project which also involves the build of ten community fire stations, four of which have opened.
Date posted: 28.01.11