It’s financial mismanagement on such a grand scale that it’s almost impossible to comprehend.
There can’t be a single housewife or husband in Britain who could begin to justify losing control of their own family finances in this way.
So why should we let the Department for Communities and Local Government get away with failing to keep any hold over the purse strings in this case?
Let’s look at the figures. The unused fire control centre in Titchfield is costing taxpayers a staggering £121,000 a month.
This building is empty and will never be used for the purpose it was intended for.
And yet we must continue paying for it for the next 22 years.
The fire control centre scheme had its critics from the very beginning but that almost becomes irrelevant at this point.
We have been saddled with an enormous debt and that should never have been allowed to happen.
The previous government clearly lost control of spending. Before it was cancelled, the scheme to merge control rooms and use a national computer system was believed to be at least five times over budget.
That’s another breathtaking figure and reasserts the fact that something went badly wrong here.
We have some sympathy for those currently in government because this is a problem that they have inherited.
But we don’t have the resources to simply engage in meaningless finger-pointing exercises now. The runaway costs of this scheme have landed on this government’s desk – and it’s up to them to find a way through this mess.
Politicians can sit back and debate who was to blame all they like. But the bill won’t stop mounting, so what’s the point?
None of us can afford to write this off as a bad debt to be paid and consigned to history.
Nigel McCullen from the Fire Brigades Union is right when he says the plan to use one computer scheme was a ‘massive white elephant’ from the start.
What’s crucial is that it doesn’t now become the albatross around our necks.