The previous Labour government embarked on an outrageous spending spree. What I had not really understood was the scale of the spend and how ridiculous some of it was.
Last week I had the opportunity to look around the regional fire control Center in Waterbeach. If you need an example of Labour waste this is it. The building cost £450m and has never been used. Worse nine of these buildings have been built around the country all capable of individually controlling the nations fire and rescue service. Yes, nine times redundancy.
Talking of redundancy this has to be the most resilient building in Cambridgeshire. It has multiple electrical feeds from multiple sub stations feeding into multiple distribution boards, feeding multiple server rooms, serving multiple ……… You get my point. If the electrical feeds fail there are multiple generators, that were designed to power huge commercial ships, fed by cavernous fuel tanks. And of course huge multiple battery packs are in place if the generators fail.
With power, food, water and fuel this building can survive a lock down for seven days. The security fence is high and monitored electronically for intruders. Sixty nine cameras keep a watch over the site. These security measures were even tested by attack teams o see if entry could be achieved. How secure does a fire control Center need to be???
Inside there were rooms, a restaurant and a magnificent control room that was huge. If the control room was ever thought not to be big enough (if that could ever be possible) then it had been designed to fit a whole new floor in the ceiling space. This room was enormous. Air conditioning with individual settings for desk areas ensured comfort.
So, why is he building not used. Well, it seems that John Prescott bought these centres under a PFI agreement that means who ever takes on the building will have to pay £1.3m a year with utilities on top. As our fire service currently spend around £300k a year the sums don’t add up. And anyway it is just far too big and over specified. Even if it were to have housed the whole regions control facilities it is unlikely that it would have been filled.
One of the reasons I went to look at the building, with officers, was to see if we could use any of the space to help defray the costs as it is public money tied up in the white elephant. Sadly, the cots are just too great at tis stage although never say never. DCLG will need to continue to pick up the costs for the foreseeable future.
What a shamefully waste of public money. Unfortunately, Labour and the Lib Dems, think spending our public money freely and on pet projects is normal. Beware the socialist ideals.