Bill for fire chiefs

Regional Fire Control Centre, Paragon Business village, Wakefield which control centre could be left empty after MPs tabled a motion to have it scrapped.
Regional Fire Control Centre, Paragon Business village, Wakefield which control centre could be left empty after MPs tabled a motion to have it scrapped.

WEST Yorkshire fire bosses will be asked to pay towards the leasing costs of a scrapped £25m 999 control centre standing idle in Wakefield.

They could face reduced funding from central government if they cannot find a new use for the multi-million pound building.

Government bosses have launched a consultation over future uses of the Fire Control centre at Paragon Business Village. It was part of a centralisation of 46 existing control rooms in to nine regional hubs, but ministers scrapped the plan after it ran into IT problems and was delayed.

The consultation document, published yesterday, suggests that fire authorities are best placed to decide on future use of the centres.

The department for communities and local government (DCLG) report said: “Now that the project has been cancelled, the department must continue to underwrite the cost of the control centre leases.

“This will reduce the overall amount of funding that will be available for fire and rescue authorities to improve their control services unless these buildings become part of the authorities’ plans or other users can be found.”

The DCLG hopes to offer leases to fire authorities but continue to make a significant contribution towards the rent.

The report said: “Sharing the cost in this way not only makes the control centre buildings affordable for fire and rescue services but increases the amount of funding available to be channelled to fire and rescue authorities for control service improvement.

“Should there be insufficient interest from the fire and rescue community, the department will try to find alternative users for the buildings.”

Fire minister Bob Neill MP said: “This government believes that the fire and rescue community is best placed to decide the future of their control services.

“No solution will be imposed. The consultation reviews the legacy assets from the project, as well as lessons learnt, and encourages the sector to make best use of these in their future plans, for the benefit of both the taxpayer and communities.”

The consultation will end on April 8.