Plans to build tri-service fire station in Theale get green light

From L to R: Councillor Pauline Helliar-Symons, Vice Chairman, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority; Mrs Susan Connor, Chair, Wigmore Lane Residents’ Association; Bob Connor, Local Resident; Mark Arkwell, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service; Councillor Angus Ross, Lead Member for Strategic Assets, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority; and Fiona Cooper, Property Capital Projects Officer, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Members of the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority’s (RBFA) Management Committee have approved plans for a new wholetime (full time) station in Theale, Berkshire.

Theale will become a tri-service community station, offering a shared location for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS), Thames Valley Police (TVP) and South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS).

The new site, which is being purchased from Network Rail, was identified during a search to optimise the locations of RBFRS’ fire stations with the aim of improving the overall speed of response. Emergency vehicles will be closer to the local communities of Calcot, Thatcham and Theale, as well as benefitting from improved access to the wider county via the M4 and A4 corridors

RBFRS firefighters and TVP’s Neighbourhood Policing Team will be based on site, together with paramedics from SCAS who will be able to use the station’s facilities when on standby.

A community room will also be included in the build, providing a flexible, fully accessible meeting space for local residents and community groups to use.

Councillor Angus Ross, Lead Member for Strategic Assets on Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said, “The inclusion of these facilities ensures that the station will be an asset and resource for local residents to make use of. This is just one example of RBFRS delivering on its commitment to put fire stations at the heart of the communities they serve.

“Careful planning has ensured the plans will provide ‘state of the art’ modern operational facilities for the blue light services as well as a community hub.”

Prior to work getting underway, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site to mark the beginning of construction work. Those in attendance included senior representatives from RBFA, RBFRS and local residents, who were among those consulted in the development of the plans.

An artist’s illustration of plans for Theale Community Fire Station.

Councillor Colin Dudley, Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said, “We’re delighted that plans for Theale Community Fire Station have been given the green light. The new station will provide a facility from which all three emergency services will respond to the communities they serve. This will strengthen our partnership working and reflects the fire authority’s commitment to further collaboration with our Thames Valley partners.

“Not only this, but the new station aims to improve the overall speed of response of our crews and provides a room for the local community to use. This further delivers on our strategic commitment to ensure that our fire stations, people and resources are placed at the heart of local communities.”

Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, said, “This project is an example of the strategic collaboration between Thames Valley Police and the three fire and rescue services of the Thames Valley, as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding. This efficient further collaboration of blue light services in Theale will not only save money but increase operational effectiveness for the communities in the area.”

Paul Kempster, Chief Operating Officer of South Central Ambulance Service, said, “South Central Ambulance Service is delighted to again be working with our emergency services colleagues from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Thames Valley Police in developing another community fire station in Berkshire.

“Our three services have a long history of close partnership working and the new facilities will ensure that at a local level in Theale and the surrounding areas, there will be even more opportunities to use our collective skills and experience to create a safer and more resilient community.”

Work on the new station is due to begin in Spring 2020, with completion and opening expected by Spring 2022.