CUTS TO HIGHWAYS PFI SLAMMED AS WEEDS AND GRASS CONTINUE TO GROW

Cuts to the Highways PFI contract have been slammed by councillors as detracting from, and not providing, the service the Island was promised, including £180,000 in cuts to grass cutting and street cleaning.

Looking at the performance report for the final quarter of the 2020/21 financial year (between January and March this year), the strategic risk for the ‘failure of the Highways PFI contract resulting in significant financial and operational disruption for the council and its residents’ is at amber with a target score of green.

Raising the point at the Corporate Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Geoff Brodie said it was unbelievable the risk was not higher, at red, due to the level of cuts found in the PFI contract.

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In figures revealed recently, the Isle of Wight Council is looking to find £32million of savings in the £726million contract with Island Roads, with cuts being made in each of the 18 remaining years of the agreement.

To help find those savings, Jasmine Consultancy was hired by the council despite the fact it helped draw up the contract. Over 39 months the consultancy was paid more than £732,000 for their services, expenses and for expertise on the final Milestone 14 target point.

Cllr Brodie said:

“This council, in recent times, spent enormous amounts of money for Jay Jayasundara, pushing cuts in the contract that is essential to service the Isle of Wight.

“I am finding it quite difficult to understand how the risk of this contract is amber when frankly we are not providing the service the Island was promised at the start of the contract.”

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Some of the service reductions, Cllr Brodie said, include the number of staff on the help desk, the collections of waste from litter and dog bins, traffic counters, £100,000 from the grass-cutting budget and £80,000 from street cleaning services.

Cllr Phil Jordan, the new cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, said they had inherited the cuts from the previous administration and would be overseeing their delivery. He said it was important the Island knew what the cuts actually meant, which he seemed to think was not the case.

“People are contacting me about grass that hasn’t been cut, weeds that are growing and the answer I am having to give is these are cuts from the previous administration as they agreed them in their budget and it does mean the grass in some cases will not be cut.”

Cllr Steve Hastings, chair of the scrutiny committee and leader of the Conservatives in County Hall, said he looked forward to budget time to see how the new administration would deal with it.

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The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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Pigleg User
Pigleg User
18 days ago

I am trying to decide if my street is looking as it does, resultant to PFI cuts in weed control or in grass cutting. It is very difficult to establish where the tarmac ends and the “field” begins. Thinking of asking a local farmer to come in and harvest the road.

Terry
Terry
18 days ago

“we inherited it from the previous administration”, how many times have we heard that, locally and nationally. Seems the ultimate “get out”. It’s getting a bit boring now, everyone wants to blame others, ( red funnel included). A bit of pro activity wouldn’t go amiss. We don’t want to hear whose fault you think it is, we want to know what you are doing to address it. We elected you because the ” previous administration” were not doing the job. ( Stronger words come to mind ).
On the weed situation, IR have just cleared ours, ( it was the worst it’s been in the 30+ years that we’ve lived here), ironically a year after they resurfaced.

Steamer
Steamer
Reply to  Terry
17 days ago

You are right Terry unfortunately cropping the weeds down to the tarmac without sorting out the roots means they will be growing back quite happily again within a couple of weeks.

Zoe Morgan
Zoe Morgan
18 days ago

The Island has more people than ever :- all (well, mostly all!) paying exorbitant council tax; where is it going?

Tony
Tony
Reply to  Zoe Morgan
18 days ago

Council pensions.

Arthur Sausage
Arthur Sausage
Reply to  Tony
18 days ago

And exorbitantly high Council wages, the Council staff should be cut especially the ‘fat cats’ who have staff below them to actually do the donkey work.

Complete time & money wasters!

Miss sensible
Miss sensible
Reply to  Zoe Morgan
17 days ago

Their pension pot…That’s where it’s going ……
The lanes are awful , vision impaired on some junctions…. totally ridiculous….
I agree get those out on community service out clearing it …

Arthur Sausage
Arthur Sausage
18 days ago

Jasmine Consultancy aka Jay Jayasundara was & is still taking huge amounts of money allegedly to keep system running smoothly.

If he was not gready & taking a large cut of PFI maybe essential services could well be available .

To be honest there must have been a cheaper option to account for money to be used but as usual or loverly council love to spend Government grant money on high priced schemes, no wonder our Council tax is so high.

If the PFI runs over budget are we the ones who with others have to come to the rescue & get them out of a hole as usual!

JohnR
JohnR
18 days ago

And they have let all the weeds grow, after the winter when the water has seeped in, frozen and made the small cracks bigger they will be asking for more money to repair the roads and pavements, a bit short sighted.

Telling it like it is.
Telling it like it is.
18 days ago

Local councils are supposed to be cutting back on grass & verge cutting for the very important reason of helping our much beleaguered environment that too many humans are too intent on destroying. So that could be a major factor in why “weeds” are allowed to grow, to give wild plants a chance to flourish and produce some seed & nectar to help the pollinating insects before the plants all get cut down again. There used to be lovely blue flowers growing on a verge near my friend;s house, honey bees attending, not any more, someone didn’t like them and destroyed the lot and covered with gravel. No wonder climate change is happening.

Janesville Read
Janesville Read
Reply to  Telling it like it is.
17 days ago

That’s all well and good but no need for weeds to grow in 1 year old pavement, the last pavement lasted 20 + years no weed in site. As for hedgerows, they are become dangerous as obstructing the view

Kali Cares
Kali Cares
Reply to  Telling it like it is.
17 days ago

I agree with you. Sadly, many people appear blinkered and just cant see the bigger picture, their only thoughts are money, appearances & a quick fix. What a shame. Everything comes at a price, but not necessary money.

Kali Cares
Kali Cares
18 days ago

I was pleased to hear Island Roads had recently stopped using Gallup a weedkiller that contains glyphosate which has been linked to cancer. Pets & other wildlife may also be at risk if they touch or eat plants that are still wet with spray from products containing glyphosate. Personally, I’d rather put up with a few weeds (what do they class as weeds?) and a bit of grass, than for IOW roads to be sprayed with chemicals again.

Telling it like it is.
Telling it like it is.
Reply to  Kali Cares
17 days ago

I agree. Plantlife has been advising local councils and working with Island Roads to try and help protect our environment. But you can see what they’re up against. I wonder how many people complaining about our native plants trying to grow have moved here from mainland town and cities? People near me move here from some city or town and 1st thing they do, remove hedges, put fences up, destroy the garden and put concrete down. Habitats lost, some species gone extinct, but none of that matters to some as long as they can get their own way and regard something as “tidy”. For God’s sake try to help Nature, not destroy it.

Kali Cares
Kali Cares
Reply to  Telling it like it is.
16 days ago

Well Said, Telling it like it is! Although I know a some respectful people from the mainland, I’ve also seen firsthand the devastating effects of some others e.g. 2nd home mainlanders who ignore planning, but then they seem to be getting away with it. It’s Heartbreaking.

Telling it like it is.
Telling it like it is.
Reply to  Kali Cares
16 days ago

One of the most exasperating was the woman freaking out because she saw and heard a hedgehog in her garden, after she’d moved here from London. She’d never seen one before and didn’t know what it was. Once it was explained to her that they were beneficial to gardeners and an endangered species now and need all the help they can get, she destroyed the garden and covered it with gravel so no more hedgehogs would want to use it. Exercising her ‘right’ to be as ignorant and uncaring of wildlife as she chooses.

Fred 2
Fred 2
17 days ago

Why are we not using all that free labour from the Courts, prisoners etc.

Sunshine
Sunshine
17 days ago

Bloody more cut backs. This country is getting worse. House prices literally through the roof and a massive shortage of houses on the island due to the DFLs buying up all the properties. A bumper summer season is forecast due so everything looks good APART FROM OUR OUTSIDE SPACES NOT BEING KEPT CLEAN AND THE WEEDS HAVING A FIELD DAY. Shucks!!!!

sue Young
sue Young
17 days ago

So Jayasundara negotiated a poor intitial contract and as a reward for his incompetence has been given a further £732,000 to rectify his mistakes, this is a sick joke given the scale of cuts needed and found.

Jes
Jes
14 days ago

I have never seen so much Ragwort as I saw on the Isle of Wight last week. It is a notifiable weed with yellow flowers and poisonous to horses, sheep and cattle when ingested and humans if pulled up without gloves as the chemicals in it permeate the blood stream and damage the liver. Each plants can spread 15,000 seeds and the councils really need to tackle it. I literally saw fields of the yellow ragwort flowers. Spraying with a selective weed killer in these fields maybe the only solution now and probably needs to be done year on year for a bit or the whole island will be covered.

Islander born & bred
Islander born & bred
Reply to  Jes
12 days ago

As long as it is kept away from where horses graze, Ragwort is a very beneficial plant for bees and the sole food plant for the Cinnabar Moth, Something I haven’t seen for years and years, probably because it cannot survive without it’s main source of food. There is a place for all plants and so there should be, in biodiversity. It is humans and their idea that anything they don’t approve of for some reason must be eradicated. Chocolate and raisins, among other things are poisonous to dogs, I don’t see any calls to have those items banned.

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