Cabinet member Coun Bryan Lodge’s claim that the Streets Ahead contract with Amey is “what the city wanted” needs close examination.
The massive long-term costs and poor value for taxpayers of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts were less known when the Lib Dems signed the initial Veolia contract in 2001.
Greens opposed that contract as it was based around feeding the incinerator and lacked the flexibility to adapt to new, innovative recycling techniques.
Sheffield Green councillors then refused to join in with the requested cross- party support to negotiate a Highways contract in 2008. By then, everyone had heard about the NHS hospitals facing crippling PFI contract repayments for new buildings. In 2011, The Treasury Select Committee concluded that PFI schemes did not provide taxpayers with good value for money.
By the time the Streets Ahead contract was signed in 2012, the coalition government had set out a clear austerity timetable, targeting the public sector with massive cuts in government grants to councils. Our Labour Council went ahead knowing contract repayments could cripple a future council with the adult social care crisis already on the horizon. Streets Ahead repayments go up annually – we will pay £4.5 million more in the next financial year.
Labour and the Lib Dems both fully supported the Streets Ahead contract.
A council chamber majority does not make it “what the city wanted” – certainly not for members of the public who never have a meaningful role in the negotiation and content of secretive PFI contracts.
They can only feel let down by council negotiators and signatories responsible for a contract that requires extra payments to Amey to retain trees accepted as healthy by the Independent Tree Panel.
Coun Douglas Johnson
Sheffield Green Party, City Ward