Axed fire call centre plan has cost millions

M27. Picture: Malcolm Wells

One lane closed on M27 after crash

The firefighters' union has welcomed the scrapping of proposals for a fire control centre in Titchfield - but raised concerns over the axed project's cost to the taxpayer.

The government announced on Monday that the planned regional fire control centre at Kites Croft - a project which has so far cost tax payers around 4.6 million - would be scrapped.

The 30,000sq ft centre, pictured below, was one of nine planned centres across the country which would replace the 46 control centres currently being used.

The Fire Brigades Union had attacked the plans from the start, raising concerns over the loss of local knowledge as the centre would have covered nine counties including Hampshire, Kent, and Oxford.

The empty building has cost taxpayers 173,668 a month in rent.

Fire minister Bob Neill MP has now agreed with the main fire control contractor, Cassidian, to halt the project.

He said in the summer that Cassidian needed to deliver the main IT system on time and on budget.

But it has now been agreed that the project will not be completed in time.

In a written Ministerial statement to Parliament Mr Neill said: 'Following extensive discussion with Cassidian, we have jointly concluded, with regret, that the requirements of the project cannot be delivered to an acceptable time frame.

'Therefore the best outcome for the taxpayer and the fire and rescue community is for the contract to be terminated with immediate effect.'

Alli Burrows, the FBU's regional control co-ordinator, said: 'We are delighted that people have finally seen the light but the worry now is how much it has cost so far.

'That was what we were campaigning for. The fact that it finally came to fruition is a huge success for us.

'There's just no way that it could be a better service. As the project carried on we could see the spiralling costs. The project has been farcical from day one.

'But we are faced now with fire services that for the last few years haven't had any financial input into the control rooms.

'We just don't know what's going to happen with the control rooms around the country.'

The Communities and Local Government Department will now consult with the fire and rescue community on the future of control room services.