THE cabinet councillor who signed away Herefordshire Council’s Bath Street offices yesterday (Monday) says there are more such deals to come – as either transfers or sales.
Cllr Harry Bramer, cabinet member for assets and contracts, says the land swap deal with Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Service (HWFRS) was the “best option” for both parties.
HWFRS gets the Bath Street offices as the site for a new Hereford fire station, subject to planning permission. The council gets the site of the current city fire station, possibly for housing.
Heritage campaigners are fighting to save the offices from demolition saying they are of specific historical significance to the city as its former working boys home.
English Heritage, however, has rejected an application to list the site.
The council no longer needs the Bath Street offices, a base far from popular with staff most of whom have now moved out with the rest set to go.
Defending the deal, Cllr Bramer said that as the council continued to consolidate its locations to cut costs it was “likely” that further buildings would be sold or transferred.
“The transfer deal with HWFRS is the best option for the Bath Street site, as it will not only provide the city with a modern fire and rescue facility, but will also provide land for the delivery of other council priorities on the site of the current fire station on St Owen Street,” said Cllr Bramer.
“We are aware that HWFRS has available government funding for a new facility and urgently needs to relocate, as its current site is well beyond its useful life. From a fire and rescue point of view, Bath Street is considered to be the most viable location in which to effectively protect the city’s residents, businesses and historic core, an option validated through response modelling and sequential testing,” he said.
Councillor Derek Prodger MBE, chairman of Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority, said: “We have investigated and had to rule out a number of potential sites in the Hereford city area, but are delighted that Herefordshire Council has now approved the transfer of this land so we are able to redevelop the site and create a new fire station fit for purpose. The location of the site meets all of our criteria including the need to be located near to where our retained firefighters live and being centrally located to ensure our fire crews are able to respond to emergencies across the city and beyond into nearby towns and villages.
“Officers from Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service will be holding a public meeting in the near future so that local residents can view the proposed designs. I feel this investment in Hereford is a big step forward and will ensure Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service can continue to serve its communities in the best way possible, whilst providing great accommodation and modern training facilities for our crews.”