Thursday, 20 May 2010

Is the FiReControl project at risk?

In today’s document outlining the new coalition government’s programme for government there is a short comment about the fire services, namely that the government will “stop plans to force regionalisation of the fire service.”

Whether this refers to the FiReControl project or Prescott’s wishes for a merging of the existing 46 English fire services into 9 regions is unclear. Personally I hope that this does not spell the end of FiReControl.

As I’ve said before, the case for FiReControl is very strong – as a nation we would have far a better response to major emergencies were an effective FiReControl system implemented. As ever, the problem is that the procurement of the technology for this project was fatally flawed from day 1 (see FiReControl – a catalogue of poor judgement and mismanagement ).

Whilst the incoming government will inevitably focus on the costs of the project, and the potential savings from cancelling the project, I hope that it doesn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The current project may be flawed, but the underlying ideas and vision aren’t. If the current project is to be cancelled, let’s hope that the vision remains, and that it is taken forward more effectively and efficiently in a well-specified project with strong user engagement.

HIPs to go – at last….

OK – I predicted the demise of HIPS prematurely (see HIPS will go - but when... ) – but the new coalition government has today suspended the use of Home Information Packs (HIPs) by home sellers.

Introduced in 2007, the aim was to speed up the house selling process by obliging sellers to provide much of the required conveyancing information when properties are first put up for sale.

The packs were paid for by sellers and contained property information, title deeds, and local searches. But in practice many prospective purchasers ignored the HIP whilst making their decision, and actual purchasers resorted to getting their own local authority searches.

"Today the new government is ensuring that home information packs are history," said Housing Minister Grant Shapps.

"By suspending home information packs today, it means that home sellers will be able to get on with marketing their home without having to shell out hundreds of pounds upfront. We are committed to greener housing so from now on all that will be required will be a simple energy performance certificate" he added.