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Scrapped Wolverhampton fire control centre to be used at last

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A £10 million fire control centre that was abandoned before it ever handled an emergency call is to become a technology centre under new plans revealed today.

The Express & Star can exclusively reveal that IT and telecoms company Oosha is in negotiations to move into the building in Wolverhampton Business Park which would allow it to create 50 jobs over the next few years.

Other companies are being invited to locate there as well, creating a technology centre.

The building is currently costing taxpayers £1.8 million a year in rent and security. The overall cost will rise to £48m by the end of a 25-year lease. The bill is being footed by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The two-storey fire control building was meant to be one of nine regional centres to replace a network of 46 fire control rooms.

But the scheme was scrapped in 2010 after years of delays and spiralling costs.

The national project has cost taxpayers £482m and was set up by former Labour deputy prime minister John Prescott.

Oosha would rent the property in a move that will help to cover some of the costs to the taxpayer.

It has 26 staff currently based in the Chubb Buildings in Wolverhampton city centre.

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Matthew Newton, operations director for Oosha, said: "We have been looking for new premises and the fire control centre is our primary focus at this point in time.

"We'd like to take it on with additional parties and for it to be a technology centre. But it's not a done deal."

Taxpayers are still funding £5,000 a day in rent, security, electricity and utility bills for the 30,000 sq ft building.

News of the negotiations has delighted South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson.

He said: "The regional fire control project has wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers' money and I will be delighted to see someone give it a purpose."

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