Massive cost of new fire centre

TAXPAYERS could end up forking out more than £1million a year to maintain an empty building earmarked for a new fire service control room for East Anglia.

TAXPAYERS could end up forking out more than £1million a year to maintain an empty building earmarked for a new fire service control room for East Anglia.

The 999 control centre based at Cambridge Research Park, which will replace individual control rooms in six counties including Suffolk is already years behind schedule and may not be ready until 2012.

In the meantime, the FBU says the costs of maintaining the building will be around £84,000 a month.

Steve Collins, brigade secretary for the FBU Suffolk branch, said: “There are cutbacks every year on frontline firefighting around the country and we have felt it here in Suffolk. Our budgets are being squeezed by national government yet money is being wasted on these regional control rooms.”

Joanna Spicer, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for public protection, said the project had been mismanaged and she was anxious that any extra costs would be found by the Government and not Suffolk taxpayers.

A Communities and Local Government spokesman said the centres were not standing idle and as well as being fitted out with IT they were also being used for developing and testing of systems.

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He said: “Good progress has been made on a number of fronts including, as planned, the practical completion of eight of the nine buildings and the establishing of the local authority owned companies.”