Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cost of Centralised 999 Service Soars; Controversial Scheme Faces Further Delays

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cost of Centralised 999 Service Soars; Controversial Scheme Faces Further Delays

Article excerpt

Byline: Alastair Craig

THE cost of controversial Government plans for a single region-wide 999 centre for fire emergencies will soar to pounds 5.9m due to further setbacks, it has been claimed.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is facing a another 10-month delay to its centrepiece fire service IT project, according to reports yesterday.

Nine regional fire control centres were meant to replace the 46 existing emergency control rooms under a national project known as FiReControl.

In the North East, the long-running scheme involves closing existing control centres in Morpeth, Newcastle, Durham and Hartlepool and replacing them with a new HQ at Belmont, Durham, which would handle all 999 fire calls from Berwick to Teesside.

The Belmont building was completed in the summer of 2007 and the plan was to go live in October this year, but that was put back to July 2010.

The Fire Brigades Union last night warned the national network may not now be fully tested for the London 2012 Olympics - when Newcastle's St James's Park will host football matches.

The pounds 380m FiReControl scheme is meant to be at the forefront of any response to a major incident such as a terrorist attack, but now looks set for a 2011 switch-on.

A Government email leaked to a national newspaper yesterday is said to outline another missed deadline on the project. The FBU claims that, in the North East, a total of pounds 4.4m will have been spent in rent and other building costs from completion to the initial go live date of July 2010, with an extra pounds 1.5m on top to cover the reported 10-month deadline extension. The nine regional control centres are being funded by the Government, which says the move will improve emergency cover and provide the best technology, systems and access to information. …

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