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Brandon Lewis (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government; Great Yarmouth, Conservative)

The Government’s response to Fire Futures on 12 April 2011 said that the Fire Service college can achieve its full potential only if there is greater involvement from other sectors (whether private, public or voluntary) in its ownership, operation and governance and that we would

“explore with the sector and other organisations options to secure the future of the Fire Service college”.

In his written ministerial statement of 22 March 2012, Hansard, column 67WS, my predecessor as Fire Minister, announced the Government’s decision to sell the Fire Service college as a going concern to the private sector.

I am now pleased to inform the House that following a thorough, fair and open process the Government have identified Capita as the preferred bidder for the purchase of the college. In identifying Capita as the preferred bidder the Government are satisfied that the sale will achieve value for money for the public purse and secure the future of the Fire Service college.

The Government are insisting on a number of conditions on the proposed sale, including commitments not only that the college will continue in use as a national training college for fire and rescue authorities, but also that it will continue to offer wider national resilience and emergency services exercises and that Government permission will be required if Capita wish to sell the incident ground.

The Government now look forward to holding constructive discussions with Capita to ensure that the transition from public to private sector is as smooth as possible. The Government expect to complete the sale early in the new year after the conclusion of a TUPE consultation and wider information sharing with current employees of the Fire Service college.

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