In 2017/18 the partnership received £30,000 of OPE funding to accelerate the co-location of EMAS into Louth Fire Station. This move has released three sites, generating savings that have kick-started the wider blue lights programme of work across the OPE partnership.
The challenge In 2015, a blue light collaboration programme reviewed the estates held by Lincolnshire Police, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) and Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service to look for ways of improving services through working more closely together, improving value for money and generating savings. At that stage, operational delivery took place from 20 locations. Collectively, blue light services operated from 52 properties, with an estimated capital value of the combined estate of £11 million and estimated running costs of £1.6 million per year.
The programme is mostly self-funding through the release of capital receipts. In 2017/18 the partnership received £30,000 of OPE funding to accelerate the co-location of EMAS into Louth Fire Station. This move has released three sites, generating savings that have kick-started the wider blue lights programme of work across the OPE partnership. This work includes:
• Fire and rescue staff coming together with the police to form one shared headquarters at Nettleham. The building, formerly the police headquarters, has been refurbished to provide accommodation for both service’s chief officers, administrative staff and 999 control rooms, and opened in March 2017.
• In the east of the county, the opening of the new Louth Fire and Ambulance Station in November 2017.
• During 2018, fire crews and ambulance staff will move into a new shared station in Sleaford. In addition to co-locating the services, the move is creating a simulated search and rescue training facility and a practice road traffic collision area – ideal for firefighters and ambulance crews to train together and develop new ways of working. Lincolnshire County Council is also benefiting from closer working with the blue light services. The development is part of a £6 million project which includes offices for Lincolnshire County Council staff.
• The former fire headquarters at South Park in Lincoln will become a new £19 million ambulance, police and fire station, set to open in 2019.
Councillor Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “After much planning and hard work, it is fantastic to see the new fire and police headquarters ready for staff from both organisations to move in to. This move will allow better opportunities for closer working, which will undoubtedly mean improved services for the public.”
The most significant outcome of the co-locations will be improved services through better collaboration. However, individual moves will generate additional savings. For example, the new Louth Fire and Ambulance Station will release a surplus property with an estimated capital value of £250,000 and reduce annual running costs by around £37,000.
Going forward, the programme has the potential to:
• release 27 surplus property assets
• generate capital receipts estimated at £3.9 million
• release approximately £700,000 of running costs per annum.
During 2018/19, the Greater Lincolnshire OPE Partnership will review the potential for five further co-locations, along with feasibility work to explore tri-service solutions at two additional locations. The major investments in building projects will be recouped through selling old sites and through significant reductions in running costs, with the new properties being much more efficient and having less wasted space.
This is only the start of the blue light journey within the OPE partnership and there have already been significant achievements, the most important being the delivery of better services for members of the public through working more closely together and reinvesting the money saved.
Marc Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, said: “A shared fire and police headquarters is a tangible example of how collaboration can deliver the best results for the taxpayer. It means we can share certain costs, allowing us to divert more resources to the frontline and ensure we maximise the budget we have to provide even better services for our communities. It puts Lincolnshire at the forefront of innovation in terms of collaborative working."