'Staggering' waste of £500m condemned

PUBLISHED: 11:00 21 September 2011

Fire engine

Fire engine

Archant

THE head of Avon Fire Authority has criticised the 'truly staggering' waste of nearly £500million on a doomed project to centralise 999 operations.

The Labour Government spent the vast sum on a failed plan to create a network of regional fire control rooms.

However, the plans were shelved last year at a time when the project was running behind schedule and over budget.

A new report evaluating the scheme has this week condemned the idea – and Terry Walker, chairman of the fire authority, says its criticism has come as ‘no surprise’.

He said: “The amount of money wasted on this scheme was truly staggering, so the findings come as no surprise at all.

“Avon Fire Authority was outspoken in its opposition to the project from the outset, which is why we refused to sign up to the scheme.

“In the six years leading up to the scrapping of FireControl we lobbied the Government on numerous occasions because we had genuine concerns that the project would not deliver any benefit to local people.

“Despite the intense pressure this authority was put under by the previous Government to sign up to the project we were determined to hold our line.

“We believed opposing the project was in the best interest of local people and that has proved to be the case.”

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