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Greens slam highways PFI as a bad deal for taxpayers

In a motion to council on December 7th Green Councillors criticise the proposed Sheffield Highways Private Finance Initiative (PFI) as a bad deal for taxpayers and say it will lead to massive increases in Council spending and liabilities. Out of over £2 billion being spent on the scheme, only £670 million is for improving the network. That, along with recent Cabinet decisions, places an unfair burden on future council tax payers.

PFI funding has recently been criticised by a Treasury Select Committee for being “extremely inefficient” and Chancellor George Osborne has announced a fundamental review of PFI. Green Councillor Rob Murphy comments :

‘We all realise Sheffield’s road are in an appalling state due to decades of underfunding but it makes no sense for Sheffield Council to plough on with the biggest ever local government PFI at a time when everyone else is realising what a poor deal PFI is.

He added :”’Future Council tax payers will pay a heavy price if this scheme goes ahead and locks us into a 25 year contract. We’re already £1.6 million over budget and it hasn’t started yet!”

For more information please contact Rob Murphy 07580 498392.

Notes

1 – Sheffield Green Party is concerned that only half of the £1.21 billion from central Government will be spent on road repairs and the rest is for interest payments on bank loans. In addition, Sheffield City Council will have to pay about the same again over the 25 years it will be locked in to the contract. This equates to an extra £13.8 million a year on top of current spending, plus inflation.

2 – Sheffield Green Party is also concerned the PFI scheme will fail to include adequate road safety measures like pedestrian crossings and the signage needed for 20mph schemes.

3 – The motion to council is worded:

That this Council:
a. notes the poor condition of Sheffield’s road network which is the result of decades of underfunding and believes the people of Sheffield wish to have roads and highways that are fit for purpose and safe for all road users and pedestrians
b. notes the proposals of the current, and the previous, Administration for a Highways Maintenance Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project lasting for at least 25 years
c. notes that the cross party Treasury Select Committee’s report of 19th August 2011 found that PFI funding is now an ‘extremely inefficient’ method of financing projects and does not provide taxpayers with good value for money. and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has just announced a fundamental review of PFI.
d. is concerned that only about half of the central government’s £1.2 billion investment will be spent on improving our roads
e. is concerned at the massive increase in cost and liabilities to Sheffield City Council which will burden future council tax payers, and by the recent Cabinet decision to defer payments
f. is concerned that after the initial stage the cost of changes to the network such as 20 mph speed limits and other safety improvements will rise considerably compared to current prices
g. believes that the Administration should delay the project until such time as the above concerns are satisfactorily addressed and the implications of them realised.

Topics: City Wide, Council, Privatisation, Rob Murphy, Transport

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