Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Agency paid £70k to cut Isle of Wight highways deal costs

Military Road, Isle of Wight Image copyright David Dixon
Image caption The £70,000 will cover the cost of exploring whether savings can be made of £2m a year

Isle of Wight Council is to pay consultants £70,000 to explore ways of cutting costs in its highways contract.

Cabinet members unanimously approved the proposal, aimed at saving £40m, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Jay Jayasundara of Jasmine Consulting, who set up the PFI contract with Island Roads in 2013, has been brought back to re-examine the deal.

The move was criticised by opposition councillors who said there had been failings in the original contract.

The £70,000 will cover the cost of exploring whether savings can be made of £2m a year for the remainder of the 25-year deal.

Potential areas for cuts could include street cleaning, street lighting, verge cutting and the emptying of dog-waste bins.

A further phase, which would cost the council about £200,000, would involve work with Island Roads but would not necessarily be carried out by Jasmine Consulting.

Labour councillor Julia Baker-Smith said problems with the original contract had included the failure to include road signs and hedge cutting in parts of the island and it had been difficult to add such items after the deal was struck.

Chief executive John Metcalfe said: "The national audit office report said that public authorities don't have the expertise to deal with very complex PFI contracts and therefore need to look to that expertise from wherever they can get it - in many cases, the teams that set up the contract."

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