Police officers and firefighters in Ixworth are now serving their community from a single base in the village, a shared fire and police station.
The newly refurbished facility, which was completed in November last year, was officially opened on Monday by Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection, and Tim passmore, police and crime commissioner for Suffolk.
Cllr Spence said: “The project’s already resulting in a more efficient use of public buildings, a really important thing that we have to do in these rather austere financial times - one building being shared by two services in the same location where previously two separate fire and police stations existed as close neighbours.”
Mr Passmore said Ixworth was ‘a good example’ of what was likely to happen more in the future.
He said: “We actually spend around £5 billion a year in the public sector in Suffolk. That’s a vast sum of money and one of the ways we’re going to be able to work more effectively and efficiently is by arranging things like this.”
Ixworth’s station is the second of four such facilities to open in Suffolk, with the pilot scheme having been launched in Framlingham in 2011 and similar shared buildings due to open in Elmswell and Debenham by the end of next month.
The aim is to reduce operating costs of police and fire teams in the areas while allowing them to maintain a high profile presence.
Andy Fry, chief fire officer for Suffolk, said: “This is a really important day for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service but it’s actually more of an important day, in my opinion, for the people that live in and around Ixworth because the new shared fire and police station that we’re opening today is a building that will enable firefighters and police officers to do an even better job of looking after people in the area.
“It makes a huge amount of sense for public sector organisations to share resources now that there are less resources available, particularly when it enables us to continue to deliver locally based services to the communities across Suffolk.”
Chief constable of Suffolk police Simon Ash, who will retire next month, said the project ‘just makes common sense’.
He said: “In terms of cost, it’s quite obvious that the more money we can drive out of buildings, the more police officers and police staff we can retain and, in an organisation that is a very people-orientated organisation, that is absolutely vital.”