Stephen Mold, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, has today announced that his Office is in advanced negotiations with the Education Funding Agency (EFA) to revise the terms of the sale of part of Wootton Hall, in a move that would see the joint Northamptonshire Police and Fire Headquarters remain on the site.
A revised agreement would allow Chief Constable Simon Edens to fully implement the Force’s new demand-led Service Delivery Model, which has been designed following detailed analysis of the county’s needs and will increase capacity to investigate crimes and allow a greater focus on community policing.
Securing an agreement with the EFA to retain the land that currently houses the Police and Fire Headquarters – which was sold by the previous Police and Crime Commissioner last May – would enable the creation of a new joint Headquarters that is fit for the 21st century.
It is the intention that any new joint headquarters would allow increased work with partners such as those within health, education and social services to enhance collaboration and service delivery. The current headquarters, which has been established since 1950, has been identified by both the PCC and Chief Constable as not fit for purpose and will require investment.
Any revised agreement would see Wootton Park School remain on the Wootton Hall site, with both the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner and Northamptonshire Police looking to create a close working relationship with the School and its trustees to help inspire future generations in the county.
A joint headquarters at Wootton Hall would also lead to significant savings of public finances and reduce the pressure on future decisions to be made around the police estates without proper due diligence being carried out.
The move will complement the new Northern Accommodation Block and Police Investigation Centre on Cherry Hall Road, off the A43 between Kettering and Corby, which were originally planned to replace outdated facilities in the north of the county and had been designated as the temporary headquarters during any move from Wootton Hall.
Police and Commissioner for Northamptonshire, Stephen Mold, said:
“The issue around the sale of Northamptonshire Police’s current headquarters is one that I wish I hadn’t had to inherit on my first day of entering Office and I am sorry it is a process that has taken so much time and effort to rectify. However, entering negotiations with the Education Funding Agency is a significant milestone in remedying this complex issue once and for all.
“I would like to place on record my thanks to the EFA and Wootton Park School for being so understanding and working with us to find a suitable solution for all parties around the future of the Wootton Hall site.
“When I entered Office, Northamptonshire Police were without a designated headquarters, something Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary highlighted as being a threat to the future efficiency and effectiveness of the Force. Any revised agreement with the EFA would enable the Force to move forward in its planning to ensure it continues to protect people from harm.
“Since I was elected as Police and Crime Commissioner, it has been my job to make sure that this situation is resolved in a manner that secures the best possible outcome for citizens of the county, and I believe that any revised agreement with the EFA would represent a win-win solution for all involved.
“The police estate has suffered from years of under-investment and I’m delighted that despite the difficult nature of this situation, we are formulating a plan that will help to secure the future of police buildings in the county for the next 50 years.”
Simon Edens, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, added:
“Northamptonshire Police exists to protect people from harm and we need fit-for-purpose buildings, in the right place, to help us to do that better.
“The Police and Crime Commissioner has sought my views on our operational requirements and he has announced his intention to retain Wootton Hall, effectively reversing his predecessor’s decision to sell it. We would keep it as our headquarters.
“The PCC has promised the investment needed to develop the Wootton Hall site so that it fully meets our future needs. This option was never offered by the previous PCC and it potentially addresses one of the concerns I had about us staying here.
“In my discussions with the PCC, I have expressed the need for a fully funded plan to make the site fit for purpose and have offered to work with him and his office to develop that plan. This will allow us to work with other emergency services, notably the fire service, to establish a truly shared headquarters.
“I believe this will allow us all to better serve our communities and protect people from harm.”
Chief Fire Officer, Darren Dovey, commented:
“Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service welcomes the PCC’s announcement to remain on the site at Wootton hall as it provides clarity and stability for both Police and Fire staff currently working there and provides the opportunity in the future to develop the site in a way to further maximise the collaboration opportunities between our two services.”
– Ends –