HS2 rail line would cut through £20m fire centre

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The HS2 rail line would run straight through the car park of the West Midlands Fire Service HQ – threatening the future of the £20m complex just five years after it opened.

Fire chiefs say they will have to relocate and build a new base because of the controversial proposed line after HS2 announced it wants a compulsory purchase order on the car park and rear yard of the centre in Nechells, Birmingham.

Bosses at the emergency service said the impact would limited vehicle access to essential equipment maintenance services and an operational warehouse and distribution centre.

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It will also see the loss of more than 150 staff car parking spaces with planned work taking place over five years.

The £20m purpose-built centre includes Safeside, which features a realistic indoor street scene used for educating around ten thousand visitors a year, mostly children, in safety and citizenship issues.

The fire service is calling for HS2 to reconsider the partial compulsory purchase and is asking for the whole site to be bought so it can yet again move to new purpose-built headquarters.

The Nechells site will soon also house fire controllers from Staffordshire as part of a merger, directing crews in the neighbouring county.

John Edwards, chair of the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority said: "We're not talking about just any business here, our building is the nerve-centre of the West Midlands Fire and


Rescue Service and houses our vital control centre which mobilises fire appliances for the whole of the West Midlands and will soon mobilise for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent as well.

"HS2 has to recognise this and enable an orderly relocation for us, given that their planned actions will render our HQ unfit for purpose."

Phil Loach, Chief Fire Officer, said:?"In no way should this have any effect to the services we provide to our communities. This is of great concern to us and we urge representatives of HS2 to reconsider."

An HS2 Ltd spokesman said: "HS2 Ltd has met West Midlands Fire Service several times and we will continue to work with them to understand their concerns and look at various options to minimise the impact of HS2 on their headquarters.

"We look forward to continuing our engagement with them and to finding solutions that will benefit both parties."

The £50bn line is set to slash journey times from London to Birmingham before forking to Manchester and Leeds via Staffordshire.

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