Central ambulance station to be sold off
BRISTOL's central ambulance station is set to be sold off and replaced with a new building.
Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) has decided to look for an alternative city centre location for the station because its current base needs £1million of maintenance.
The NHS trust is working with Bristol City Council to sell the 1967 building off Tower Hill and the adjacent offices in Marybush Lane, which date back to 1920.
One of the service's managers said the station would move to one of three sites currently under consideration, all in central Bristol, but would not reveal where.
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The ambulance service's chief executive Ken Wenman has contacted Bristol City Council, which owns the car park outside the station, to work with them in selling the joint site.
Surveyors are currently working on the site, GWAS executive officer Neil Le Chevalier said.
The council confirmed it is looking to jointly market the whole site, although said plans are in their early stages.
"The aim is to keep a central ambulance station in Bristol and we are in conversation with the estates department at Bristol City Council to find out what sites are available," said Mr Le Chevalier.
"We will be rebuilding in a new site.
"I can't actually say where it will be – it will be in central Bristol. I believe there are two to three sites that have been pencilled in, all in central Bristol.
"From response standards it would be very foolish to move from a central site."
Mr Le Chevalier said it will be about 18 months to two years before the changes come into place.
As previously reported in The Post, GWAS has been looking at the buildings it owns and rents across Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and the former Avon area as part of plans to save money.
The trust said last year that it had a maintenance backlog costing £2.5m across its 35 buildings, with the Bristol station accounting for as significant chunk of that.
It was announced last week that GWAS would move 33 employees from its emergency operations centre in Devizes to its Almondsbury call centre Acuma House.
Bristol ambulance station is a base for paramedics and vehicles while the former Avon Ambulance Service headquarters next door are used for administration and training.
Councillor Jenny Smith (Lab, Southmead) said to a meeting of the GWAS joint health overview and scrutiny committee: "Bristol Station has not had any work done on it for 30 to 40 years.
"When we visited there were buckets everywhere.
"It is a major economy in the community as it repairs ambulances, has a training centre, office space and attends emergencies.
"If you change that I for one will want to know that we get the services within the city protected and the employees.
"We need a decent ambulance service for the city, whatever you do please bear that in mind."
Earlier in the meeting on Friday concerns had been raised by the committee members – who represent the areas covered by the ambulance service – about not being consulted on plans to move the dispatch team from Wiltshire to South Gloucestershire.
Mrs Smith said: "This is ever such bad process. This committee needs to know, the local authority needs to know and to expect some transparency when changes like these are taking place.
"We need to know and the public need to know as well."
She asked for assurances that the committee – which exists to scrutinise the NHS trusts – would be kept informed of plans on the future of the Bristol station.