Labour’s legacy: £1 million every month on unused fire stations

We are used to stories of how Labour in Government wasted stacks of cash during their 13 years in office. From aircraft carriers to PFI projects to centralised ID databases and other IT projects, billions were needlessly thrown away. Those billions burnt the gaping hole in our public finances that the Coalition is trying, in difficult circumstances, to fix.

Another example of Labour profligacy came to light this week in the Times (£). Apparently, £1 million a month of our hard earned taxes is going to pay costs on unoccupied state of the art fire service control rooms built by Labour in a huge centralisation project.

Details of the growing cost of the nine centres have been uncovered using the Freedom of Information Act. Only one of the centres built as part of the “FiReControl” project is in use. Rent, electricity, water and repair costs on the remaining eight centres stand at £1,134,566 a month.

Costs will be incurred for years to come as no break clauses were placed in the agreements to lease the buildings. Two leases come to an end in 2027, one in 2028, two in 2032, three in 2033 and one in 2035.

Seeing money needlessly wasted over 30 years is frustrating to say the least. It’s certainly £12 million every year  that could have been put to much better use. It’s another example of Labour’s failure to ensure that the contracts drawn up for public spending were fit for purpose.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

11 Comments

  • The slant of most articles on this website, seems to be to be demonstrably anti -Labour, though I would not condone money wasted anywhere.

  • slightly confused – is it a million per week or per month?

  • I must admit I did see some logic in the idea when it was first announced although clearly the implementation has been shocking. The problem is that so many government projects needlessly waste money. The proposed changes to the new aircraft carriers never got off the drawing board and they cost a huge amount. I guess the only defence Labour have is that they leased the sites for a long term project that was cancelled by the coalition….

    I am also surprised that this cost was not identified and published prior to cancelling the project in late 2010, someone must have felt that the cost benefit analysis stacked up and that continuing would have been even more costly.

  • @margaret
    I’ve noticed a few anti-Tory articles as well, and masses of pro-Lib Dem stories….

  • Alex Sabine 27th May '12 - 2:56am

    @ Steve Way: “The problem is that so many government projects needlessly waste money. “

    Quite. There might even be a lesson in there somewhere…

  • well..? It’s all very well bleating about it, but what are we going to do about it?
    So Govt has a series of buildings that it seems it must continue to pay for but has no use for… what plans are there? – what, none? Suggestions please?
    My suggestion would be to put them into the hands of the local people to find a use for them(not some mandarin in Whitehall). The costs being already in Govt budgets, they could be leased at a nominal rate to any local public service, whether it be education, health or whatever… this is a case for local innovation to use available buildings that are otherwise mothballed, incurring further costs.

  • Richard Dean 27th May '12 - 11:54am

    At last, a sensible suggestion! Well done Peter! Might some of them be turned into flats, social or otherwise?

  • Why is such information coming out through LDV rather than being given to campaigns on the ground with suitable artwork etc by the Elections Dept/ALDC etc?

    We used to be good at such stuff – now we are in government the supply has just dried up.

  • peter27th May ’12 – 11:41am…………..well..? It’s all very well bleating about it, but what are we going to do about it?.

    Well said, Peter.

    To be fair Labour ‘wasted’ a lot but also did a lot of ‘good’ things…Voters may have rejected Labour at the ballot box but this hides a huge increase in satisfaction with core public services over the lifetime of Labour’s government. The BSA 27th Report(Dec 2010) stated….
    •With more health service reform on the way, satisfaction with the NHS is actually at an all time high. When Labour gained power in 1997, only a third of people (34%) were satisfied with the NHS, the lowest levels since our survey began in 1983. By 2009, satisfaction had nearly doubled, and stood at two thirds (64%).
    •There is also high public support for the broader curriculum introduced by Labour as well as satisfaction with the performance of secondary schools.
    •In 1996, around a half (56%) thought schools taught basic skills well, rising to nearly three quarters (73%) by 2008. Nearly three quarters (72%) also say schools should be judged on how well they teach children skills for life.

    BTW, in the real scheme of things, £13M per annum equates tothe yearly bonus for a couple of bankers.

  • Dave Eastham 27th May '12 - 6:38pm

    Dunno why this is such so “shock horror” news seemingly revealed by an F.O.I. request. All this was reported for years by Private Eye and reports issued in 2011 by the Parliamentary accounts committee http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/20/fire-service-reorganisation-500m-failure and the National Audit office http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/1012/failure_of_firecontrol.aspx , whose comment was :-

    “This is yet another example of a Government IT project taking on a life of its own, absorbing ever-increasing resources without reaching its objectives. The rationale and benefits of a regional approach were unclear and badly communicated to locally accountable fire and rescue services who remained unconvinced. Essential checks and balances in the early stages of the project were ineffective. It was approved on the basis of unrealistic estimates of costs and under-appreciation of the complexity of the IT involved and the project was hurriedly implemented and poorly managed. Its legacy is the chain of expensive regional control centres whose future is uncertain.”
    Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 1 July 2011
    The continuing cost implications were known and reported http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/20/fire-service-reorganisation-500m-failure
    This was undoubtedly amongst one of the worst botches of a project by the Labour Government and you can read the whole sorry tale at http://uk.ask.com/wiki/FiReControl , plus also, from someone who worked on the project, http://www.themself.org/tag/firecontrol/ . There was a systematic failure to consult properly or communicate with stake-holders. Yes, the whole service did need overhaul. Just not the one proposed in the way it was. It even had a largely positive equalities impact assessment, http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/fire/pdf/FControlEqualitiesImpact.pdf . Unlike certain recent Coalition projects I could mention. Additionally; and not like some other policies carried out by the Coalition, the commitment to abolish the national FIReControl project was a Tory manifesto commitment.
    For the record, the centre that is in use is at Merton which is London’s Fire Control Centre, a semi detached part of the successor “local” reorganisations, http://www.guardian.co.uk/government-computing-network/2012/mar/01/firecontrol-projects-command-control . Example of which is the North West, http://www.guardian.co.uk/government-computing-network/2011/sep/26/north-west-fire-authorities-firecontrol?intcmp=239 .
    Whilst there is no doubt the previous project was a disaster, it does not seem that the lessons have been necessarily been learned, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/22/500m-fire-service-disaster-public-services . Although this article is from the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, which will no doubt, provoke the immediate play of the “vested interests” dismissal card by some. Two years in to the Coalition, we cannot continue to use the blind mantra of it’s all Labour’s fault (although many things obviously are). All Governments make mistakes, which though, is no excuse and the Coalition has a few “own goals” lurking around as well, (Catapults and Aircraft Carriers come to mind for one). It’s about time a little less hubris is called for perhaps?.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Stephen Liddle
    Caption: 'No, of course I'm not going to drop this anvil on my fo-'...
  • Peter Kemp
    CAPTION CONTEST .... " If I ruled the world ... every day would be a by-election win " ;)...
  • Keith Nevols
    Caption competition: -----KLAHOMA!...
  • David Raw
    To use the term 'pontificating' (whilst hiding behind anonymity) could not only offend the Catholic vote in Birstall but it's also a bit rich coming from someon...
  • Steve Trevethan
    Congratulations to Gordon for his insightful comments! Since the premiership of Mr. Callahan, we have been subject to a long term austerity in which all three ...