What the new station will look like

Cost of upgrading three fire stations balloons to £20million

There are "unforeseen costs" which were not anticipated at the early stages


The cost of upgrading three new fire stations at Avonmouth, Bath and Weston-super-Mare has ballooned from £14million to £20.3million.

The latest estimates take into account unforeseen costs which were not anticipated at the early stages of planning, according to the Avon Fire Authority.

The news comes as the organisation responsible for fire and rescue services across the region agreed to raise the tax it collects from residents by the maximum 1.99 per cent from April.

The increase will take the precept levied by the fire authority to $74.94 for a Band D property in 2020/21.

It will be added to council tax bills across the region, which are already set to rise by the maximum 3.99 per cent in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset, and by 3.98 per cent in Bath and North East Somerset

Voting unanimously for the precept increase yesterday (February 12), members of the fire authority pointed to the organisation’s financially precarious position and the major costs it expects to incur over the next four years.

The authority is facing a funding gap of £1.4million by 2023/24, despite next year’s maximum tax increase and the £18million sale of Avon Fire and Rescue Service’s former headquarters in Temple Back.
Avon Fire and Rescue Service cost's have ballooned(Image: Bristol Live)

Authority chair Don Davies, the independent leader of North Somerset Council, said: “Our reserves are very lean and the money we’ve generated through our sale of headquarters has been spent and more really in terms of three vital bits of work we’ve got to do in refurbishing our three main fire stations and also the other pressures in terms of Bedminster and all the other [stations] we’ve heard about which all need work to them.”

The authority plans to spend £19,363 over the next four years on its ‘Reinvesting for the Future Programme’ to refurbish the fire stations at Avonmouth, Bath and Weston, according to 2020/21 budget papers.

The new stations at Bath and Weston are still in the early planning stages but work officially started on the new £4million station at Avonmouth today (February 13).

The existing 1958 facility at St Andrew’s Road will remain operational and be demolished in stages while the new “state of the art” station is built.
Bedminster Fire Station(Image: Avon Fire & Rescue Service)

Speaking today, Cllr Davies said the complexities of keeping the old Avonmouth station running while building the new one alongside was one of the factors contributing to the £6.3million rise in the estimated overall costs.

Other factors included the problems of building in Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage City.

Cllr Davies said the original costs were estimated before any detailed investigations were done, and it was only then that the “enormity of the task” became clear.

The authority was doing what it could, including changing contractors, to cut costs where possible, he said.

"It's a moveable feast," he said.

The authority's £45.36million budget for 2020/21 includes £1.64million held in reserve and planned “savings” of just over £800,000.

Some £1.5million has been set aside over the next two years for the refurbishment of Bedminster Fire Station.

The authority is also planning to spend another £11.6million over the next four years to replace its vehicle fleet.