The government risks a repeat of the £500 million "fire control centre fiasco" according to a new report from the National Audit Office which said that consultations between Whitehall and key stakeholders such as the Fire & Rescue Service continue to be rushed.

The study published today [13 June] warns that despite "goodwill" on all sides, Whitehall often fails to communicate well with local authorities - leading to a high risk of waste when projects get under way.

It cites the now-infamous example of the hundreds of millions of pounds wasted when the Government embarked on a plan in 2006 to construct new hugely-expensive regional fire control centres around the UK, without properly consulting first with local fire authorities or winning the backing of individual fire services.

The new report makes clear that consultations are still being rushed by Government and are often launched shortly before Christmas or summer holidays, leaving local authorities little time to respond.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: "As the local delivery of services becomes an ever greater concern of central government, how departments and local government communicate with one another becomes all the more important.

"Communications need to be clear, timely and take account of cultural differences. Moreover, consultation needs to be done in a way that shows that central government 'means it', with enough time for the results to be meaningful, and for local government views to be reflected in the projects which go forward."

A spokeswoman for the Department For Communities & Local Government welcomed the report and highlighted praise of its website and newsletters as examples of where things are working well.

Posted 13/06/2012 by