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Cheshire police and fire HQs plan to merge

Cheshire Fire HQ
Image caption Cheshire Fire Service's Winsford headquarters would be sold under the plans

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has announced plans to sell off its base in Winsford and merge with the county's police headquarters.

Some back office functions would be merged across both emergency services, according to a fire authority report.

Cheshire's chief fire officer admitted job losses were "highly likely" but said he was committed to maintaining "public and firefighter safety".

Fears that expertise will be lost were expressed by the union Unison.

A report to the county's fire authority said "significant changes will be required to the way we work" before plans are finalised in December.

Staff in the fire service's HR, ICT, finance, payroll and procurement departments would become police employees under the proposals.

It's not yet clear how many jobs would be lost.

'Clear distinction'

Cheshire fire headquarters would be sold once training facilities have been rebuilt elsewhere, the service said.

Paul Hancock, chief fire officer for the county, said the services would "maintain individual identities".

He said: "This is about bringing together the support services across the two organisations to provide some resilience to support the front end of both police and fire.

"It's sharing the back office to maximize the skill sets we have across the two organisations."

Unions fear expertise from both organisations will be lost.

Amy Barringer, from Unison, said: "It's important that a clear distinction between different blue light services is maintained, in order to ensure that staff are properly trained and accountable for the work they do."

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