A TOTAL of £45m of taxpayers’ money is committed to the North West fire control centre even though it has been axed.

The last Labour Government had planned to replace 46 fire control centres in England with nine regional sites, including a £14m centre in Warrington, covering the whole of the North West.

But the Tory-Lib Dem administration has scrapped the project except for the new London control centre.

Now The Observer has established taxpayers are committed to a 25-year lease on the building with Jersey-based AAIM Warrington Unit Trust, totalling £45m in rent.

This is a fraction of the total of £342m of taxpayers’ money committed to paying rent on all the empty sites.

The Warrington centre had been due go live in 2009 but the computer system was never installed.

Cheshire Chief Fire Officer Paul Hancock said: “We will now be working with other fire and rescue services in the North West to investigate whether any of the benefits that were offered by sharing a control centre operation can still be realised. These may include cost-efficiencies and greater use of improved technology.”

Uncertainty around the national project meant Cheshire decided to invest £300,000 in an overdue modernisation of its control room in Winsford.

The Fire Brigades Union is furious taxpayers’ money is being ‘diverted into the pockets of international property developers’ at a time when fire services are facing ‘massive cuts’.