Cambridgeshire

'Negotiations' over £23m Waterbeach regional fire control centre

Fire control centre in Waterbeach
Image caption The £23m control centre was finished in 2009 but has never been occupied

An MP has been told the government is "in negotiations" over sub-letting a regional fire control centre that has cost the taxpayer a suspected £2m annually since it was built.

The £23m building at Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, was finished in 2009 but ministers decided not to use it.

The unused 30,488 sq ft (2,832.5 sq m) building has been for lease ever since.

Cambridge's Labour MP Daniel Zeichner said it was "really depressing" that the building was not being used.

Mr Zeichner, who was given the update by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, added: "We were assured over a year ago that this was finally going to be resolved and here we are another 18 months on, still costing us more, still unresolved."

Image caption The unused building is 30,488 sq ft (2,832.5 sq m) in size

The control centre was built under private finance initiative (PFI), a scheme started by the Labour government where a company pays for construction costs with the government leasing the building back to avoid build costs.

Mr Zeichner said PFI "wasn't one of Labour's finest moments".

Last year, the Fire Brigades Union said the building cost about £2m a year to maintain, and that money could have funded 16 fire stations for a year.

In the eastern region, the Waterbeach headquarters would have answered all emergency fire calls from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, north Essex and Suffolk.

However, the project was abandoned in 2010 after the coalition government said it could not be delivered to "an acceptable timeframe".

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