Wakefield fire control room still empty after a decade

A fire control room in Wakefield is still vacant at the taxpayers expense a decade after the scheme was scrapped.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 11:47 am

The £14m centre at Paragon Business Village was set up to handle 999 calls as part of a centralisation of emergency services.

But it was scrapped in 2010 after the project ran over budget and was hit by IT problems.

Since then the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has been looking for an organisation to take over the lease of the empty building, which runs 20 years from July 2008.

The Yorkshire & Humberside Fire Control Centre on the Paragon Business Village, Wakefield.

The department, which was then known as the Department for Communities and Local Government, said there had been interest in letting the building in a report published in 2015.

But the potential new occupants pulled out of the deal and the building remained empty.

The Fire Brigades Union secretary for Yorkshire and the Humber David Williams said the centre was a bad decision and a waste of money.

He said: “It was an expensive white elephant at the time and it has been an expense to the taxpayer in the years since.

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“We should not have to continue to foot the bill for an empty shell of a building.” The control centre is currently being marketed as Zenith Wakefield.

Its website says: “Zenith Wakefield is conveniently located just off the A650 at Paragon Business Village, which is situated two miles from Junction 41 of the M1 motorway. Existing office occupiers on the park include Nationwide Building Society, Beaumont Legal, JR Paleys and Red Hall Group.

“The site has a number of onsite facilities including a Bannatyne Gym, Whitbread pub, Premier Inn hotel and children’s day nursery. In addition, Wakefield city centre lies just two miles away with Leeds city centre ten miles distant.”

It said rent details are available on application.

The centre was built to high specifications, with £6,000 coffee machines and £4,000 sofas.

A MHCLG spokesman said: “The Wakefield Regional Fire Control Centre is currently vacant and the Department is exploring options for its future use.

“We are determined to keep the costs associated with these buildings to a minimum and have successfully disposed of five Fire Control Centres since 2011.”