Margaret Hodge, MP and chairwoman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, has termed a project to establish nine regional centres for fire and rescue services a 'complete failure.' She said the FiReControl project had wasted £469 million.
The MP said the project had wasted of huge sums of public money for many years and its objectives remained unachieved. "The taxpayer has lost nearly half a billion pounds, and eight of the completed regional control centres remain as empty and costly white elephants." Hodge told the BBC.
The Public Accounts Committee said eight of the nine centres of the FiReControl were 'white elephants.' The plan to substitute 46 smaller control rooms was cut-shot in December 2010.
Hodge said the project was initiated by the Labour government in 2004, but it was scrapped in 2010 without accomplishing any of its objectives.
FiReControl intended to eliminate 46 local fire and rescue control rooms across the country and reinstate nine of them with state-of-the-art centres linked by a new IT system.
The project was intended to improve coordinated response to emergencies like flood, terrorism and rail crashes. But the report suggested that the IT system "was simply never delivered" and that the Department for Communities and local governments "fatally undermined" the project by not putting their best in coordination with the local fire services.
"The department excluded them from decisions about the design of the regional control centres and the proposed IT solution," said the report.
The Fire Brigades Union has welcomed the Public Accounts Committee report about the failure of the FiReControl project, but warned that the important lessons were yet to be learned.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the union, said the ministers were to be blamed for the failure of the FiReControl project, as they completely ignored the voices of the control staff and their representatives. "Now the present government is leaving it to local fire and rescue services to clear up the mess, making ad hoc arrangements without an overall view of national resilience," he said.