Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

January 05, 2011 19:01 ET

999 Fire Control: Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Councillors Urged to Stop and Think Before Risking Tax-Payers Money

CAMBRIDGESHIRE, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Jan. 5, 2011) -

Media Release: embargo 00.01 Thursday 6 January 2011

Today (Thursday 6th January), Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority Councillors will be asked to sign up to the latest untried, untested and uncertainly-costed plans affecting the handling of 999 fire calls by the emergency fire control room at Hinchingbrooke. The latest plans come only two weeks after the Coalition Government pulled the plug on the ill-conceived, seven-year fiasco of the failed and wholly discredited Regional Fire Control Project that ended up wasting £1.3 billion of tax-payers' money.

Two weeks on, local fire chiefs have hastily cobbled together a "plan B" with their counter parts in Suffolk to transfer all 999 fire and rescue calls for emergencies in Suffolk to be handled and controlled from the existing emergency fire control room at Hinchingbrooke. The proposal is a whole new project in itself – to be paid for by tax- payers – and would inevitably require complex contract negotiations, legal costs, additional workloads, ICT system upgrades, new working practices and procedures, staff transfers, redundancy costs and reorganising.

Adrian Clarke, FBU regional secretary:

"The regional fire control project was founded on hollow promises about technological capabilities, operational resilience and financial savings. From the start we, the FBU, were the lone voice warning of all the flaws and dangers. In the end, despite the previous Government throwing good money after bad, our warnings were proven right and the project failed. We're now seeing the same kind of promises being given by local managers in a bid to persuade councillors to sign a blank cheque for this untried, untested and uncertainly-costed venture with Suffolk. We believe councillors and council tax-payers deserve to know the full details of all the legal, technical and reorganisational implications and costs before coming to any decision.

"There are great risks and few benefits, if any, in this venture for the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The existing emergency fire control room is designed and set up to deal with 999 calls and emergencies within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and has a proven track record. If it ain't broke, why fix it?

"Suffolk's position is completely different. Suffolk's fire chiefs bounced their councillors into agreeing to the venture to cover up the mess they created by committing too early to a PFI project which sold off their control room site in anticipation of the regional control project coming good. That was a big mistake. But that was their mistake and we urge Cambridgeshire and Peterborough councillors not to be rushed into a decision and to exercise extreme caution before deciding whether to take a chance on this untried, untested and uncertainly-costed venture, especially when there is no local imperative to do so."

Contact Information

  • FBU
    Adrian Clarke
    07917 - 017713
    Sharon Riley
    07889 - 088423
    Keith Handscomb
    07730 - 435633