Spin rarely shocks me anymore, but my jaw dropped when I saw the sheer deceit of a particular press release from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that was put out last night.
It started all chirpy: Firefighters are better equipped and prepared than ever before.
The project to deliver new FireControl centres that will answer 999 calls to the Fire and Rescue Service and improve public and firefighter safety should continue, according to a Parliamentary Select Committee report published today.
The report concerned FireControl – the Government plan to save loads of cash by closing the UK’s 47 county based fire service centres and replacing them with nine regional ones.
Yet DCLG have taken the one thing that could possibly have been twisted in their favour from this report – that it said the project should continue – and utterly warped it into a positive story.
What the report really said was that FireControl was “inadequately planned, poorly executed, and badly managed”.
In fact, it was such a hideous, abomination of a financial fiasco, the report says, that it would now be more expensive to scrap it than to continue.
The report said the scheme was costing DCLG £423 million, more than triple the original price tag, and that forecasted savings had fallen by around two-thirds.
Rather than save cash overall as first expected, FireControl is now predicted to saddle the taxpayer with a £240 million loss.
In fact, the cost to the taxpayer of this mega-botch could be up to £1.4 billion – because DCLG is already having to lease the new regional centre buildings even though they’re not in use.
Better equipped fire fighters? Maybe DCLG meant the out-of-use £25,000 coffee machine that they have installed in one of those out-of-use buildings. Unfathomable stupidity.
Here is the real killer – the report claimed DCLG officials tried to withhold documents from the inquiry in a bid to hide their incompetence.
No surprise, I suppose, after seeing the mendacious press release they put out.
Lobbydog deserves a stroke for his endeavours today.