FIRE and police chiefs have insisted sharing a base in an Oxfordshire town will benefit the community.

The Woodstock neighbourhood policing team has moved across Hensington Road to the town's fire station and a ceremony formally marked their arrival on Thursday.

It comes after Thames Valley Police did not renew the lease on the station, at a time when many bases across the county face an uncertain future.

But Rob MacDougall, Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service's new chief fire officer, claimed the partnership means both emergency services can better serve residents.

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He said: “We are committed to thriving communities; working in partnership with other emergency services and support groups to achieve this. Co-locating teams at Woodstock makes absolute sense for our communities.

“It will undoubtedly improve relationships and information sharing between firefighters and police officers, making sure we are doing the very best for residents and businesses while delivering efficiencies by sharing properties.

“Being in the same building will provide more opportunities for our teams to problem solve and identify news ways to deliver our prevention initiatives in a joined-up way, whether that is reducing the vulnerability to fire, crime, or other community safety issues.”

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West Oxfordshire neighbourhood inspector, Steve Hookham, added: “We look forward to taking this opportunity to work more closely with the fire service and build on our existing working partnership.

“The relocation of the neighbourhood policing teams to this new facility ensures that Woodstock and the surrounding communities will continue to benefit from a locally based police presence for the foreseeable future.”

Officers moved into the building on July 29 in the second such partnership in Oxfordshire, after Chipping Norton.

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That station had been in use in the town since 1865, but the force left in February.

Carterton's police base is also expected to be sold, with officers eventually moving into a new state-of-the-art station set to be built on Monahan Way.

Similar schemes have been rolled out across the country in recent years, with police chiefs saying it helps cost-cutting and puts money back into frontline services.

Police federations, the bodies that represents officers, have previously raised concerns at the measures, but Thames Valley Police Federation declined to comment.

The Oxfordshire branch of the Fire Brigades Union was also approached for comment, but did not respond.

Thames Valley Police is looking to make millions of pounds worth of cuts over the next five years, meaning dozens of stations across the county could be at risk of closure.

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In January, it was announced that sites in Banbury, Bicester Gowell Farm, Wantage Library, Wheatley and Sonning Common will all be lost before 2022.