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'White elephant' fire control centre to be sold off

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 21, 2012

Fire control centre
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Tenants are now being sought for a "white elephant" fire control building which costs the taxpayer £5,000 per day, despite standing empty.

The Taunton "Zenith" fire control centre is now being marketed by independent property adviser GVA, on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The building was custom designed for use as a fire control centre, in a controversial Labour Government project to regionalise facilities from Cornwall to Wiltshire, which critics said would mean valuable local knowledge was lost. it was stopped when the coalition came to power.

The building spans £30,000 square feet, and includes top-class security and a high-tech control room.

Ben O'Connor of GVA is handling the letting: "Zenith Taunton provides a virtually oven-ready solution for a wide range of potential occupiers looking for a high specification finish, in-built technology and a resilient, extremely secure environment. I anticipate significant interest from organisations seeking some or all of these characteristics."

But Phil Jordan, South west secretary for the Fire Brigades Union, said it underlined the "huge mistake" made by the previous government.

"Hopefully this will bring an end to a very sorry saga which wasted millions," he said.

Of the nine control centre buildings originally developed, four have been let to emergency services, one of which, in Fareham, Hampshire is to be used by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) as their new national Maritime Operations Centre.

It was yesterday unclear what sale or rent the Taunton centre was being marketed at, but in Wolverhampton, another fire control centre is being marketed for £450,000 per year, after it failed to attract a buyer.

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