WORK on the new multi-million pound Wyre Forest Fire Service and Police Hub is under way following a special event.

The first hole was dug at the brownfield site off Stourport Road in Kidderminster on Friday (October 26), marking the beginning of the £7.6 million redevelopment.

Fire crews from the current Bewdley, Stourport and Kidderminster stations will relocate to the new hub, which is expected to be completed in late 2019.

Some of the benefits of the hub outlined by the Fire Service include smarter risk prevention activity, closer sharing of operational intelligence, and improved incident response activity.

The event was attended by senior officers of Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) and West Mercia Police, including Roger Phillips, Chair of the Fire Authority, Chief Fire Officer Nathan Travis, and the Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion.

Katie Harris and Andrew Hipkiss from Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) also attended, as the hub will be the voluntary group's new home for vehicles and equipment.

Plans for the hub were unveiled back in 2014, and permission was granted for the project to go ahead by the council’s planning committee back in March this year.

But the proposals were met with criticism, most notably from the Fire Brigades Union who argued closing Stourport and Bewdley fire stations and relocating them to Kidderminster would increase response times and put people’s lives at risk.

Chief Fire Officer Nathan Travis said: "The creation of this new facility means that we will have a twenty-first century building with all the facilities to be able to make sure we can do all of our training and respond effectively to those local communities.

"In terms of the response time standards I know we have had some concerns raised about that through the consultation, but they will be within acceptable levels and we are not looking to reduce any of the resources that we have got, and all of the fire engines will be relocated to this area."

West Mercia Police Chief Inspector Jim Baker said: "The Wyre Forest Hub will be the new home to our Wyre Forest Safer Neighbourhood team and Harm hub.

"Teaming up with the Fire Service on this development will benefit the communities we serve by enabling us to share information and improve our collaborative working."

Katie Harris from SARA said: "It's a really positive move for us as an organisation.

"Moving onto here will give us more access to training facilities - and more opportunities for our volunteers.

Andrew Hipkiss from SARA added: "It's going to make a massive difference, it's giving us more scope to do more and to interact with the Fire Service as well."