Fire control merger 'must be scrapped'

PROPOSALS to merge the fire control rooms of East Anglia into one location should be abandoned, an MP has claimed. The Government is planning to combine the region's six rooms into one high-tech centre, with staff answering 999 calls from across the whole region.

PROPOSALS to merge the fire control rooms of East Anglia into one location should be abandoned, an MP has claimed.

The Government is planning to combine the region's six rooms into one high-tech centre, with staff answering 999 calls from across the whole region.

The scheme has been strongly criticised by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) which has claimed lives could be put at risk and jobs lost.

Yesterday, the Conservative MP for West Chelmsford, Simon Burns, said he shared the FBU's concerns, calling the changes “misguided”.


You may also want to watch:


A plan being imposed by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, will see the three county brigades of Norfolk, Suffolk and Hertfordshire join with fire authorities covering Essex, Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Bedfordshire, Luton, Southend and Thurrock in one centralised centre.

The EADT has been campaigning against the changes, saying centres should be run locally with operators who have a knowledge of the places they are dealing in potentially life or death situations.

Most Read

Last month it was revealed a former RAF base in Bedfordshire – nearly 100 miles from parts of Essex, had been earmarked as the site for the control room.

Mr Burns has written to the Minister for Local Government, Phil Woolas, asking him to abandon the proposals.

He said: “I strongly oppose the Government's plans to close the Essex fire control centre and merge it into a regional centre.

“I share the East Anglia branch of the FBU's serious professional reservations about the viability of these proposals.

“There is a serious risk that if the Government were to press ahead with these proposals not only would it be expensive in financial terms but could also result in cuts to front line services.

“I am not aware of anyone, except the Government, who supports these proposals and I am urging the new minister to think again and recognise the strength of the arguments against these proposals which are not in the interest of people in West Chelmsford.

“I am therefore urging the minister to abandon the plans before it is too late.”

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said: “The department has received a letter from Simon Burns which we respond to it in due course.

“The regional control centre project is itself a result of an independent review of fire and rescue control rooms by Mott MacDonald, which concluded in 2000 that current arrangements were costly and inefficient. 

“When the Government consulted widely on the report in December 2003 there was broad support for the regional control centre approach.”

An announcement on the locations for the regional control centres across the country is expected soon.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter