As we disclosed on Twitter earlier, the council has named their preferred bidder for the Island’s roads PFI. This in the council’s own words – Ed
The Isle of Wight Council has chosen Vinci Concessions and Ringway as its Highway PFI partner.
The company – which already has strong links with the Island – was chosen by the council’s Cabinet last night (29 May) as partner for what will be the largest engineering project ever undertaken in the county.
Vinci Concessions designs, finances, builds and operates all kinds of public infrastructure world wide while Ringway is a market leader in the provision of highway related infrastructure services to local authorities throughout the UK. Ringway already carry out the Island’s winter maintenance contract.
Now this stage of the process has been reached, the full scope of the project – that involves university bursaries for future civil engineering students, schemes to stabilise highways that suffer ground movement and over 120 schemes to reduce highways flooding – can be detailed.
Comprehensive upgrade – and maintenance
At the heart of the PFI project will be the comprehensive upgrade – and maintenance over 25 years – of the Island’s road, footway and cycleway network.
Also included will be the council’s winter maintenance and roadside verge maintenance programmes as well as its street cleansing operations. The CCTV network will also be maintained and improved as will the Island’s street-lighting network with the installation of low-energy LED bulbs.
The project with Vinci not only includes proposals to keep open the highways at some of the Island’s most unstable stretches including the Military Road and Niton Undercliff, similar work to address movement affecting roads will also take place at around a dozen other locations.
There will also be at least 120 separate schemes across the Island to tackle stretches of highway prone to rainwater flooding.
In other aspects, the contract will introduce public waste bin receptacles that allow pedestrians to recycle their rubbish.
In order to maximise career opportunities for Islanders, Vinci Ringway will also sponsor a number of university bursaries for civil engineering students.
Under the agreement, Vinci must have regard for the contract’s carbon and water footprints. As well as the obvious environmental benefit of this approach the local economy also stands to be boosted significantly as it puts local businesses in prime position to provide materials and labour.
The PFI is financed in the main through a government grant – not a loan and therefore does not have to be repaid. The council will make an annual contribution which will be less than the sum it currently pays to provide the services that will in future be provided through the PFI.
The core investment period
Actual work will begin in April next year with the bulk of the Island’s roads upgraded within the first seven years – known as the core investment period.
Traditionally core investment periods are five years but the council has negotiated a longer period to seek to minimise disruption, particularly in the tourism season. Vinci will be required by the contract to minimise disruption and working overnight, when and where appropriate, will be a common feature of the Highways PFI.
Councillor Edward Giles, Isle of Wight Council cabinet member for highways and transport said:
“All those who use Island roads will, I am sure, appreciate the need for this comprehensive upgrade. We are about to embark on a huge project that will leave the Island with a transport infrastructure of unprecedented quality.
“Now we have reached this stage and agreed a final business case we are able to say more about the nature of the work that the project involves. Announcements such as that around the highway stability and drainage work and the university bursaries hopefully begin to further illustrate the scope of this project and the varied benefits it will mean for the Island.
“This is a once in a lifetime project to give our roads network a complete overhaul and upgrade and to do so in a way that offers the best possible value to council taxpayers.”
Stuart Love, Isle of Wight Council director of economy and environment, said:
“The procurement process has been a complex one but necessarily so as we have had to agree a long-term contract that represents the very best interest of road users and council tax payers. We now have a partner that, like the council, is totally committed to a project that will not only dramatically improve the transport infrastructure but which will do so in a way that benefits the local economy and is mindful of the local environment.”
Kevin Smith, chief executive of the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, said:
“I am delighted a scheme that stands to provide such a major boost to our economy has taken another big step forward.
“It is also pleasing that the preferred bidder has strong connection with the Island and, through that, understands what local business can offer.”
A spokesman for Vinci and Ringway added:
“Vinci Concessions and Ringway are delighted to have been selected, by the Isle of Wight Council, as Preferred Bidder for the Isle of Wight Highways PFI on the Island.
“We look forward to working with the council to ensure we deliver a high quality, value-for-money service which meets the needs of local people and the Island’s economy.”
For reference, the road stabilisation schemes included in the Highways PFI are at:
Westhill Lane, Yarmouth, Lower Road, Adgestone, Duver Road, St Helens, Gills Cliff Road, Castle Court, Leeson Road and Whitwell Road at Ventnor, the urban footpaths south of La Falaise car Park and the Winter Gardens also at Ventnor. There will be further stability projects at the Old Access Road at Blackgang and the Terrace at Chale.