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Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on what date she expects the (a) North East, (b) East Midlands and (c) South West regional fire control centres to open with a full operational capability. 
Mr. Dhanda: The regional control centres (RCCs) in the North East, East Midlands and the South West are expected to begin operations on 5 October 2009 for the first Fire and Rescue Services to 'cut over'.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what tests will be applied to determine whether the Fire Control project represents value for money for fire and rescue authorities. 
Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 31 January 2008]: The Department published version 1.0 of the business case in June 2007. This set out at a high level why Fire Control is an essential part of the national fire resilience programme and how it will help to improve public safety in England. Once steadystate operating conditions are achieved, the cost of providing control services under the new, regional networked arrangements is estimated to be some 28 per cent. (£23 million) lower per annum than current operating costs. These figures are informed by assumptions which we continue to review with our partners including the fire and rescue authorities. We will publish these in an updated business case in due course.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the total allocation for the Fire and Resilience Programme was in the last year for which figures are available, broken down by fire and rescue services in England and Wales; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Dhanda: The following table shows total grants paid to Fire and Rescue Authorities in 2007-08 for the FiReControl, Firelink and New Dimension projects in England, which together constitute the Fire and Resilience Programme. A further grant for New Dimension is expected before the end of 2007-08, but this is still being finalised. Communities and Local Government deals only with fire and rescue authorities in England.
|Fire and Resilience programme payments 2007-08|
|Fire and Rescue Authority||£000|
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) total cost and (b) cost of information technology provision in respect of the FiReControl Project has been since 27 October 2005; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what mechanisms are in place to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of EADS Defence and Security Systems in the provision of networked control systems in respect of the Fire Control Project; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Dhanda: The Fire Control information systems contract was placed with EADS Defence and Security Systems Limited in March 2007. Progress against contractual milestones is monitored formally on a monthly basis and overall progress is reviewed regularly between the Senior Responsible Owner and the Managing Director of EADS.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of staff in the fire and rescue service were firefighters in each year since 1997. 
|Personnel employed in the fire and rescue service in England|
|Firefighters( 1)||Fire c ontrol||Non-uniformed||Total||Percentage Firefighters|
|n/a = not available (1) Includes all roles of fire. Source: Annual returns to Communities and Local Government officers, including chief officers|
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects the working party on firefighters pensions announced on 22 January to (a) meet and (b) report; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Dhanda: The Governments intentions for firefighters pensions involve the provision of viable, affordable and good quality final salary pensions which, at the same time, must remain fair to taxpayers.
To help achieve that an ill health review group of national stakeholders, including the fire and rescue authority employers and trade unions, professional firelighter bodies and specialist work force advisers, is being established to examine urgently the issues and evidence surrounding the operation of current ill health pension awards, and to inform Ministers consideration of the best way forward. Arrangements
have already been made to hold a first meeting of the group on 20 February with further meetings planned for 4 March and 2 April.
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