Fire merger slammed

A CONTROVERSIAL scheme to create nine regional fire control rooms was inadequately planned, poorly executed, and badly managed - but the government should plough on anyway because it would cost too much to scrap, according to a committee of MPs.

A CONTROVERSIAL scheme to create nine regional fire control rooms was inadequately planned, poorly executed, and badly managed - but the government should plough on anyway because it would cost too much to scrap, according to a committee of MPs.

The government wants to scrap the existing 46 control rooms as part of a �423m shift towards a regional system.

A report by the communities and local government (CLG) select committee said the scheme had been put at “substantial risk” because of a host of problems including poor relations with its IT provider and a lack of openness among civil servants overseeing the project.

In the East of England, Cambridgeshire will be the first to move to the regional system in September next year followed by Suffolk and Norfolk, which is expected to move from its Hethersett headquarters to the outskirts of Cambridge in May 2012.


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The MPs said many fire authorities had reservations about the project because of a lack of openness and collaboration among civil servants, while fire chiefs were still struggling to implement the system at a time when they should be focussing on the high profile safety concerns posed by the Olympic Games in 2012.

But despite the criticisms the committee said ministers should carry on because the �8m costs of carrying on were less than scrapping it.

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And the chief fire officers' association has also written to ministers reconfirming its support in the project, following the report.

But the Conservatives said the report was a further example of waste by the Labour government and the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) renewed its call for the project to be scrapped.

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