The council will spend about £79 million next year on the Streets Ahead contract, about double the £39 million spent on highway maintenance in 2011-12, the year before the highways PFI contract was signed. This puts extra pressure on the council budget.
To help close this gap, the council is proposing to change the way it accounts for the money it has borrowed in order to make short-term savings of about £6 million a year. This is equivalent to a council tax rise of about an extra 3 per cent.
In effect, the council is borrowing now and paying off later - much later. Up to 2057 in fact, twenty years after Amey has been fully paid under the current highways PFI contract. To save £48 million before 2037, the council will pay about £90 million in total.
Is it right to expect our children and grandchildren to pay off the cost of today’s road resurfacing? The roads won’t last that long, so they will also have to pay the cost of their own roads as well.
It is only five years in to the 25-year Amey contract and already the council is rescheduling its finances. The Don Valley Stadium and Waltheof Sports Hall have been demolished but the city still owes about £100m in debt for costs incurred in 1990 for the World Student Games. This should have been a warning in 2012.
It is easy for long-term financial decisions to be buried away in technical papers but it is important the public knows about them. That’s why Greencouncillors called the issue in to the scrutiny committee this week. We want to know if we’re getting value for money for our and the next generation.
Cllr Douglas Johnson
Sheffield Green Party