Government to offload �23million Cambs fire control centre that never was and branded biggest waste of money in 30 years

THE Government is to offload a �23million Cambridgeshire building which was created to house a regional fire control centre – but was never used because the project was abandoned.

One fire brigade union official said week said it had been the most scandalous waste of public money he had encountered in the last 30 years in the service.

The state-of-the-art centre, in Waterbeach, was built as part of the then Labour Government’s plan to regionalise fire control rooms.

Since its completion in 2008 it has racked up monthly running costs of about �160,000.

Ministers have said it is unfair taxpayers are still footing the bill for the “botched” project, and are now looking to lease the building – and others like it across the country – to new tenants.

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Adrian Clarke, Fire Brigades Union regional secretary, said the scrapping of the project had been a “scandalous waste” of public money that could have been better invested into the fire service, which has been hit with major budget cuts in recent years.

He said: “I’m coming up to having completed 30 years in the fire service and in 30 years I have never witnessed such a scandalous waste.”

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Baroness Hanham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, said it was “clearly unsatisfactory” that the project had proved a costly failure.

Tenants might find them attractive since they were “built to a high specification and have a number of desirable features, including excellent resilience, good security and easy access to major road networks.”

She added: “It is clearly unsatisfactory that taxpayers have had to foot the bill for this poorly conceived and poorly implemented project from the last administration, and taxpayers will no doubt resent such expensive buildings lying empty because of the botched procurement and handling under the last Government.”

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