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Backing for fire and police academy at former school

PUBLISHED: 13:11 07 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:59 10 September 2020

Hethersett Old Hall School isbeing turned into Norfolk police's new training centre. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Hethersett Old Hall School isbeing turned into Norfolk police's new training centre. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

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A move which would see firefighters join police officers at a training centre at a former boarding school has been backed - but “serious discussions” are needed over the project’s finances.

Hethersett Old Hall School. Picture: Brittany WoodmanHethersett Old Hall School. Picture: Brittany Woodman

Hethersett Old Hall School, which went into liquidation last year, was bought for £3.35m by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk.

It is being turned into the constabulary’s primary base for training new recruits and existing staff, known as The Learning Centre.

But members of Norfolk County Council’s Conservative-controlled cabinet today (Monday, September 7) agreed to back a move which would see fire and police work together to create an emergency services training academy and to develop the Old Hall School site.

However, during that meeting, Conservative police and crime commissioner Lorne Green made clear such a link-up was unlikely to come for free.

Norfolk police and crime commisssioner Lorne Green. Picture: ANTONY KELLYNorfolk police and crime commisssioner Lorne Green. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mr Green, who has said he will not be seeking re-election to the police and crime commissioner role, told councillors: “We do need to have serious discussions on the resource implications. I have approved a lot of money - £3m and some million more to do up the thing. I really do welcome collaboration, but it’s not without cost.”

Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for property, said: “I don’t think a public meeting is the right place to discuss any commercial arrangements.”

Tom FitzPatrick, the council’s cabinet member for innovation, transformation and performance, said: “The police and crime commissioner has brought up a few hiccups, but something can be done outside the meeting.”

If the collaboration does go ahead, it could also pave the way for Norfolk County Council to sell the current fire and rescue training site at Bowthorpe, which is more than 30 years old.

A council report said the Bowthorpe site “does not currently benefit from the latest technology” and the office space there “does not meet the latest council standards for modern working arrangements”.

Simon Bailey, chief constable at Norfolk Constabulary, previously said of the academy: “I see this as a win-win, not only for the constabulary but for the community as well.”


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