The trickledown effect of an £80 million investment in new police stations serving the region will be felt next week when construction firms get the chance to win contracts to build the sites and maintain them for 25 years.
The major PFI project, which will see three police custody suites built for Avon and Somerset Police in Patchway in Bristol, Keynsham, and Bridgewater as well as a training centre for three of the firearms units with the region’s other constabularies, will mean a major boost to the economy across Somerset and Bristol.
A “meet the buyer” event took place last month in Bridgwater and another is planned in Bristol on Wednesday, with subcontractors getting the chance to secure valuable work.
Police chiefs are keen that the capital investment – which comes as revenue budgets are squeezed – will provide a boost to the local economy.
“We are committed to investing in the local economies that we serve, especially in times like these,” said Julian Kern, the programme sponsor from Avon and Somerset police. “We want to encourage local subcontractors who have experience of working on medium-large projects, to come and find out more about the opportunities,” he added.
The project has been valued at £80 million, but police chiefs say they are keen to spend much less than that on the four different sites.
A link-up of private firms, who have joined together to form the Blue Light Consortium, will take on four projects. The project will create a new indoor firearms training centre for Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire forces at a quarry near Portishead.
It will also centralise Avon and Somerset’s custody suites – places where arrested people are held in cells – from ten all over the two counties to just three, in Patchway, Bridgwater and Keynsham.
“It’s something other forces, like Wiltshire, have done a while ago, but the idea is that we centralise the teams investigating crime as well as the custody centres too,” said a force spokeswoman.
Kevin Dickson of Miller Construction, one of the major partners in the PFI consortium, said: “We are pleased to be able to welcome local subcontractors to our third “meet the buyer” event, who have an interest in working with us on the Avon and Somerset PFI Project.
“Last month’s event in Bridgwater was a huge success and we would like to thank everyone who attended and registered their interest with us.
“The open days are providing us with the opportunity to meet with potential local sub-contractors who will work with us to deliver the four contracts within this project, which is proving to be a worthwhile experience. Attendance at the events has been high as has the calibre of companies we have met to date. We look forward to welcoming sub-contractors from the area that we are still to meet,” he added.