Fans of Yes Minister will doubtless recall the classic episode involving the hospital with no patients. It rather reminds of the North West Regional Fire Control Centre at Lingley Mere in Warrington – a giant, phenomenally expensive building lying almost empty save for a few meetings.
So I’m pleased that today, BBC Radio 4 have picked up the baton to draw wider attention to this catastrophic example of the obscene waste of the previous Labour administration.
The regional fire control centres (RCCs) are late, over-budget, and not to specification. They were supposed to deliver savings but any savings have long since disappeared in delays and budget overruns. The new Fire Minister, Bob Neill MP, has been left with the unenviable task of cleaning up the mess left by Labour, in the knowledge that cancelling the whole white elephant might cost even more.
Our control centre staff at Fire Service HQ in Pendlebury do a fantastic job, and it is unacceptable that they have been left in such limbo by the advent of the Regional Control Centres. They continue to work with dedication despite not knowing if or when they will be expected to move to Warrington, and they have been in this state of flux for a number of years now. For that alone – before we even get to the appalling waste of money – previous Labour ministers should hang their heads in shame.