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To let - One big white elephant with a Taunton location
THE Government hopes to off-load Taunton’s never-used regional fire control centre to a private firm.
Labour’s plans for the ‘white elephant’ on Blackbrook Business Park to replace local control rooms across the South-West were scrapped as costs spiralled.
The Coalition attempted unsuccessfully to attract fire and rescue services to occupy the building, one of nine regional centres nationwide, which has landed taxpayers’ with a multi-million pound bill.
Now Baroness Hanham, Govern-ment spokeswoman for Communities and Local Government, has announced the site is being marketed to private companies.
She told Parliament that four premises in other parts of the country had been rented out but the search was on for occupants of the remaining five, including Taunton.
Baroness Hanham said: “They are built to a high specification and have a number of desirable features, including excellent resilience, good security and easy access to major road networks. Buyers of the control rooms will also benefit from the £6,000-a-piece deluxe polished chrome Brasilia espresso machines that were purchased for each of the centres by the last administration.”
She added that steps had been taken to cut the cost of the unused centres, with utility bills reduced by 35%, after it emerged the empty Taunton building had cost £3million in 18 months in rent and other bills.
Baroness Hanham said: “It is unsatisfactory that taxpayers have had to foot the bill for this poorly conceived and poorly implemented project from the last administration. And taxpayers will no doubt resent such expensive buildings lying empty.”
The Blackbrook building has about 20 years left on its lease, which must be paid for from taxpayers’ money unless a new occupant can be found from the private sector.
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