Isle of Wight Council bosses defended the decision to bring back the architect of the controversial Highways PFI — to find savings on the contract he originally put together.
Opposition councillors last night questioned the decision, following last week’s announcement the authority plans to make £40 million in savings from the contract.
Ongoing contractual disputes
Jay Jayasundara, of Jasmine Consulting, set up the contract with Island Roads in 2013. He was brought back to advise on the project earlier this year and was paid £32,690 between January and April.
The contract has been widely criticised following ongoing contractual disputes between Island Roads and the council.
£2m savings per year
The council said Mr Jayasundara would be looking at cost-saving options, with the view to saving £2 million a year over the remainder of the contract. However, the savings are, at this stage, just a ‘confirmed possibility’.
Street cleaning, dog-bin emptying, street lighting and verge cutting could be among the casualties.
The initial cost of bringing back Jasmine Consulting will be £70,000.
Paid to identify savings
Speaking at last night’s scrutiny meeting, Leader of the Isle of Wight council, Cllr Dave Stewart, said that during this first phase, Jasmine Consulting will explore the contract and identify where potential savings could be made.
The second phase, involving working with Island Roads, will cost the council ‘in the region of’ £200,000. This work may not necessarily be undertaken by Jasmine Consulting.
Cllr Stewart said the cabinet stood behind the decision:
“If we have got a way, through our contract of saving the council and our public £2 million a year, but it costs £70,000 to bring back someone who knows more about that contract than anyone else, then I am quite happy about that.”
Cllr Peacey-Wilcox: “Majority of issues caused by JJ”
Chairman of the IWC, Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox said:
“The majority of the issues we have are, and have been experienced and caused by that person. I think the public need to know that.”
What about refinancing plan?
Cllr Peacey-Wilcox added the council produced a document in 2015/16, looking at the refinancing of the contract and identifying £20 million in savings:
“That document still exists so why employ someone?”
Responding, Cllr Stewart said:
“I don’t know why the previous administration didn’t do it if it was so good.
“This isn’t about refinancing, this isn’t the outcome we are looking for.
“If we can reduce our commitment to the government grant, and have a contract that’s fit for purpose, that’s better for the council.”
Image: The PFI contract being signed © Isle of Wight Council