Somerset

Taunton fire control 'could be used by ambulances'

Empty Taunton fire control centre
Image caption The Taunton fire control centre was built but never became operational

The unused fire control centre in Taunton could be taken on by a new regional ambulance service.

The premises currently stands empty after plans for regional fire control centres were scrapped last year.

Earlier this week Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) said it was working with South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS) to create a partnership.

Chief executive of SWAS, Ken Whenman, said using the facility was "not impossible" for the combined service.

"Both Great Western Ambulance Service and ourselves have always been interested in a control room in Taunton, and we've been talking to the fire service about that in the past so I wouldn't say that anything is impossible," he said.

The GWAS currently serves Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, the greater Bristol area, and parts of Somerset, while the SWAS covers parts of Dorset and Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Plans to combine the two services by October 2012 were announced on Friday.

The unused fire control centre at the Blackbrook Business Park in Taunton was built in 2007.

It was meant to serve Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and the greater Bristol area.

Computer problems meant it was never opened and it was eventually scrapped by the coalition government, along with eight other regional fire control centres, in December 2010.

The building currently stands empty at a cost of £5,000 per day.

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