Page last updated at 09:09 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 10:09 UK

Delays for regional fire centre

Fire control room
The delays are because of IT system problems

A new fire control centre to handle emergency calls from across the East Midlands has been delayed until January 2012, the government has said.

The centre at Castle Donington, Leicestershire was originally expected to open in 2008 but earlier problems postponed the date until summer 2010.

The merged centre is for Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, and Northamptonshire.

It faces further delays because of problems with the IT system.

The government said it was a complex project which would deliver benefits.

The Derbyshire operations are now due to move there in May 2011, Leicestershire is expected to follow two months later with the whole of the region transferred by January 2012.

The end result of this control centre will be a superb facility
Dave Webb, project manager for the East Midlands centre

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has opposed the project, saying the cost of moving to a single control centre would divert funds from front-line training and equipment.

Phil Coates, from the Nottinghamshire FBU, said: "We have very good control centres in the whole region. They already work very well."

Dave Webb, project manager for the regional control centre, said: "The end result of this control centre will be a superb facility.

"Delays to it are disappointing but the thought is to make sure that when we do move into the regional control centre, it is absolutely spot-on and provides exactly what we require. We don't want to rush in before it's ready.

"It will improve fire fighter safety... and the service the public gets, in terms of the nearest and quickest available fire engine can get to their incident."

The project is part of a national plan to close 46 emergency fire control rooms and replace them with eight regional centres. All centres are affected by the delays.

The government has said the new network will also improve the country's ability to respond to terrorism, large-scale industrial accidents and natural disasters such as flooding.

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