YORKSHIRE’s £14m fire control centre is still standing empty and unused, almost a year after the Government claimed to have found a prospective tenant – and seven years after it was first built.
A written statement by Fire Minister Brandon Lewis yesterday revealed a deal has still not been struck with the public sector body which the Government is desperately hoping will take over the running of the fire control centre at Paragon Business Village in Wakefield, which has stood empty since 2007 at a cost to taxpayers £5,000 per day.
Yorkshire’s is one of four regional fire centres across the country for which a use has still not been found – despite the entire project having been cancelled when the coalition came to power in 2010. Mr Lewis said he was hopeful negotiations will soon be concluded for the Wakefield centre, to cover at least some of the ongoing cost to the taxpayer.
“Five of the nine centres have now been sub-let or transferred,” Mr Lewis said. “Heads of terms are being negotiated with public sector organisations for the Wakefield and Taunton regional control centres. The two remaining centres – in Castle Donington and Cambridge – are being actively marketed, and interest has been shown in both.”
The regional fire control project is regarded as one of the most disastrous and profligate schemes of the New Labour years, costing around £500m before finally being aborted.
The new centres were built to astonishingly high specifications, featuring £6,000 coffee machines and £4,000 sofas.
But their computer systems never worked, and after years of delay and overspend the entire project was cancelled in 2010.