Fingers have been burnt in fire centre farce

THE programme to amalgamate West Yorkshire's local fire control rooms in one regional centre has been a shambles from start to finish.

Just to recap, this is the scheme that saddled us with a 25 million facility that we discovered was to stand empty until July 2012.

While it did so it was costing taxpayers more than 5,000 a day, or a staggering 153,000 a month.

Then we learnt that the hi-tech computer equipment set to be installed at the Wakefield centre would run the risk of turning the place into a fire hazard on account of its tendency to overheat.

Such was the breathtaking incompetence on show and the huge amount of public money being wasted, we suggested it would be best if this enormous white elephant were scrapped to avoid any more millions being frittered away on it.

Now the Coalition – which was never keen on Labour's streamlining of fire control centres anyway – has decided to axe the project but keep the centre for brigade use.

It means 230 million of public money has been wasted at a time when we can least afford it on a nationwide project that seemed doomed and unnecessary from the start.

If there was ever a scheme that demonstrated the staggering ineptitude of those charged with deciding public spending, it is this one.

Cool on fare freeze

ANNOUNCING that it is to freeze its prices is perhaps a sign that bus firm First is at long last beginning to listen to the mounting grumbles of discontent from passengers.

It is interesting to note that it follows hot on the heels of talk of organised boycotts by campaign groups.

And while for many it is not possible to stay off the buses, such is their reliance on public transport, it could be that the message is starting to get through.

Whatever the motivation, it is welcome news for passengers who were bracing themselves for a new year fare rise.

Tellingly, however, the company says the freeze will continue for 'the foreseeable future'. In other words, it will last for as long as they want it to.

That is why, even with this concession, it is still within the public's interest for the introduction of 'quality contracts' that take matters like fares and routes out of the hands of profit-driven private operators.

Feast-ive season

ON average, we tuck into a whopping 6,000 calories on Christmas Day – three times more than we need.

Leeds dietician Christine Cooper says it's easy to enjoy the festivities without piling on the pounds.

We thank her for the sensible suggestions as to how to stop ourselves from over-indulging.

But isn't that what Christmas is all about? It's a time to eat, drink and be merry. And after all, it does come but once a year.

EP 22/12/10

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