Fire services in West Midlands and Staffordshire have received £3.6 million to develop a new, shared system for dealing with 999 calls.

But the fate of an empty £10 million building which was designed to be a state-of-the-art fire and rescue control centre for the West Midlands remains undecided.

West Midlands Fire Service turned down the chance to use the building, which cost £9.7 million to build at Wolverhampton Business Park and still costs taxpayers £1.4 million a year in rent.

The facility was the brainchild of John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, and was supposed to take 999 calls for Staffordshire, West Midlands, Shropshire, Hereford and Worcester and Warwickshire fire brigades.

But even though it was completed in 2007, it was never used - partly because the fire authorities themselves were firmly against the idea.

Earlier this year, Ministers asked fire services to draw up plans for dealing with emergency calls, and stressed that they could use the empty building if they wanted.

But West Midlands Fire Service and Staffordshire Fire Service turned down the offer.

Instead, they are to work together to operate their own joint control rooms.

It means that the two brigades will cut the number of control rooms they use from four to just two.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is providing a £3.6 million grant to help the two forces get the new system working, but in the long run they will save £1.4 million a year by working together.

Meanwhile, the facility at Wolverhampton Business Park, which is just off junction 2 of the M54, continues to stand empty.

The Department said it was in talks with a private company and “another emergency service” to see if they would use the building, but would not provide more details because the talks are “commercially confidential”.

Fire Minister Bob Neill said: “The Coalition Government is adopting a more localist approach to help secure improvements in national resilience, rather than trying to impose a forced regionalisation of the fire service.”