Fire and Rescue Minister Bob Neill has today announced the next steps in securing the future of the Fire Service College. Following a successful pre-market engagement exercise, the Fire Service College will be sold to a private sector company to continue operating as a training centre.
To ensure best value for money for hard-pressed taxpayers and enable the College to continue in its role a number of conditions will be imposed on the proposed sale. These include commitments that not only will the College be preserved as a national training college for the Fire and Rescue Service but that it will continue to offer wider national resilience and emergency services training and exercises.
Bob Neill said:
The Fire Service College is an asset of national importance, with a world-class reputation and it is vital that we secure its future.
My decision means that the private sector will be able to bring innovation and investment to the College, benefiting taxpayers, local residents, the Fire and Rescue Service and, ultimately, strengthening national resilience.
I know there is real excitement about this opportunity out there in the market and I look forward to seeing some strong bids when the process opens.
Notes to editors
1. The Fire Service College is a trading fund and executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government. Since becoming a trading fund in 1992, it has never been able to pay a dividend out of operating profits. This situation cannot persist and the Government’s response to Fire Futures on 12 April 2011 concluded that the College could achieve its full potential only if there was greater involvement from other sectors in its ownership, operation and governance.
2. The Future Options project considered four options for the future of the College:
- The status quo: the College remains as a trading fund of the Department
- A Government Owned Contractor Operated model: the assets remain under Government ownership but management of the College is taken over by a private sector company under a long term contract, together with the staff
- Disposal as a going concern: the College is sold to a private sector company who would continue to operate the College as a training centre
- Closure: the College’s activities cease, staff are made redundant and the site is sold for an alternative use.
Analysis of the four options showed disposal as a going concern to be the best option. It is the only option which both fully removes from Government the ongoing financial risks of ownership of the College and preserves a national training college for the Fire and Rescue Service.
3. A pre-market engagement exercise has been conducted to invite the views of external partners and to assess the level of private sector interest in the College. There has been real interest in this solution and we expect the College to go to market in early April 2012.
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