The Conservative-UKIP-IMG budget was narrowly approved at the recent Isle of Wight Full Council meeting.
Labour councillor for Newport East, Cllr Geoff Lumley has criticised one particular saving that relates to the “relaxation of seven year handback requirement” in the Highways PFI Contract.
Road condition at the end of the contract will not have to meet the 7 year life requirement and some roads will be maintained with alternative, but suitable surfaces.
“Short-sighted” £200,000 saving
Written in the PFI contract is the requirement that when Island Roads reach the end of the 25 year contract in 2038, the Isle of Wight roads must have been built to a standard that would not require work on them for a further seven years.
The amendment to the contract has been made in order to save £200,000 in the 2017-18 budget and will see in a change to the “surface treatments”.
Cllr Lumley told OnTheWight,
“Just four years into this 25 year contract it seems incredibly short-sighted to already be chipping away at what we will be left with in 2038.
“We were promised an excellent road network at the end of the contract that would not require any further work on it in the following seven years.
“If that promise can so easily be given up by the new Tory/Ukip administration, what else would they give up if they were allowed to continue past May?”
‘Saving’ is “badly letting down the Island”
When last month’s Scrutiny Committee looked at the budget papers, the issue was then raised by Cllr Lumley (also the only councillor who raised it at the February Budget Meeting).
He said the ‘saving’ was “badly letting down the Island who were promised so much by Eddie Giles and his pals”.
Adding that, to reach the end of the 25 year contract and have the roads potentially fall apart from day one is a short sighted measure, as they would then be the responsibility of the council.
Gilbey: “Not a gold standard piece of work”
The executive member responsible for the PFI, Cllr Jon Gilbey said they way the PFI contract was written was that they were given a ‘gold-standard’ contract, adding,
“As much as we’d all like to buy a Rolls Royce unfortunately sometimes we have to settle for a Ford Escort.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to end up with sub-standard work, what it means is that we’re not going to end up with a gold standard piece of work.”
Can readjust it in ten-12 years
Deputy leader, Cllr Stuart Hutchinson, and one of those on the Cabinet that brought forward the contract in 2012, replied,
“As time goes by over four years of ten years things will have to change, we will have to make contract adjustments – at this moment in time because of the serious financial difficulties we fund ourselves in we’re looking at whether savings can be made and that means at the end of the contract yes, there may be some changes.
“But it also means that if we’re healthier financial situation in ten or 12 years from now we can readjust it and put it back. It is such a long way ahead.”