The Isle of Wight Council and Island Roads have been criticised for not providing performance data relating to the Highways PFI project.
Members of the council’s scrutiny committee this week asked about Island Roads’ contractual obligations, but said they had not been provided with crucial information — leading one councillor to ask how the committee was supposed to do its job.
Specifics of contract been witheld
The Highways PFI has seen the Island’s roads improved to an agreed standard over the last six years, with further work continuing until 2038 — but information about the specifics of the contract have been witheld due to legal reasons and commercial sensitivity.
A presentation on the delivery of the contract to date was given to the committee at its meeting on Tuesday by project managers — who said they would need to take legal advice before answering some questions about fines, approved methodology and other statistics.
Committee member Cllr Debbie Andre asked which milestones had been met, and when, but was told by the council’s director of neighbourhoods, Colin Rowland, it was difficult for him to provide the information due to the specifics of the contract.
Without taking legal advice, he said,
“We are not able to discuss it.”
Brodie: Can’t scrutinise without information
Cllr Geoff Brodie, who said he had ‘naively’ hoped for answers, said members’ right to information had been denied.
“How can you be a corporate scrutiny committee? How can you scrutinise when you have no information, no performance data — we are not allowed to be given answers by our own officers.
“It seems to me a contract has been conducted in secret, away from the elected members of this committee and the public, because they have a right to know the failures of this contract.
“This contract has let down people and this scrutiny committee has not been allowed to scrutinise it properly, can you try and do something about it.”
The scrutiny committee recommended the PFI team seek legal advice and come back with further information and answers, which could be discussed in a private session if necessary.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed