POLICE officers have started using Newent fire station as a base in a first for Gloucestershire.

The partnership with the fire service means that officers serving the northen end of  the Forest will not have to travel to Coleford, Lydney or Gloucester for issues such as picking up equipment.

Members of the public will also be able to speak to officers at the fire station in Bridge Street.

A ribbon was cut at the fire station last Wednesday (July 26) by Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson and Dave Norman, the county council Cabinet member responsible for the fire service.

Chief Inspector Emma Macdonald, who is in charge of the Forest and Gloucester division of Gloucestershire Police, said  the move was “huge” for officers.

She said: “It’s been quite challenging for us to find a location near the northern Forest.

“Lydney and Coleford are the two main locations we work from and there was nothing in the northern area.

“We have a PIP (public informtion point) in Newent Library to meet the public or have a rest break but to have a facility like this will be huge for us.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson said: “We’ve been pushing for quite some time now to improve the footprint of our police in our communities and one of the best ways we’ve found is by working with our colleagues in the county council and fire service to have these combined fire and police stations.

“This is the first one, Winchcombe is the second and there are two or three we’ve got our eye on if they are suitable.

It will improve the footprint of our police in our communities, make it easier for our officers to go on patrol and organise meetings in this fire station so the police are closer to the community they serve.”

Cllr Dave Norman (Con, Grange and Kingsway), Gloucestershire County Council’s Cabinet member for the fire service added: “My aim working with the Chief Fire Officer and other colleagues is that we have at least one of these police and fire community hubs in every district council area of Gloucestershire.

“It’s got to be right for our working and right for the communities we serve.”

Chief Fire Officer Mark Preece said: “I am very pleased that our police partners have now joined us at our shared facilities at both Newent and Winchcombe Community Fire and Rescue Stations. 

“I am confident that working together collaboratively with our emergency service partners will continue to enhance the services we provide to our communities.