Islanders may not see their roads resurfaced or repaired to an acceptable standard for a further 4 years as it has been announced that the PFI contract’s Core Investment Period has effectively been extended from 7 to 11 years.
It was initially planned that the Island’s road network would be brought up to scratch within the first 7 years of the 25-year contract with Island Roads, a time frame known as the Core Investment Period (CIP). Typically these would be 5 years long, but it was agreed at the start of the contract with the Isle of Wight Council that this would be extended by 2 years to April 2020 to take into account the seasonal nature of the Island.
Now, it has been confirmed that there will be a further 4 years of significant resurfacing and repairs on the Isle of Wight as the major project is behind schedule – something Island Echo suggested back in May 2019.
Secrecy has always surrounded the PFI contract and that has come under fire in recent weeks. However, it has now been revealed that around 90% of Hierarchy 1 and 2 roads have been resurfaced on the Island, but the smaller side roads and country lanes have not received the same level of treatment.
Even some of the busiest roads on the Island are already failing, including New Road in Brading which is breaking up in several locations. Other major roads such as Fairlee Road are yet to be resurfaced at all.
The number of pavements completed Island-wide is unknown and it is unclear if the resurfacing of the pavements will be completed within the next 4 years.
There is a constant argument over the promises made at the start of the PFI, with many Islanders under the impression that every road would be resurfaced within 7 years.
A statement issued by Island Roads in August 2013 read:
“This programme by Island Roads is the most intense schedule of works yet to be undertaken through the Highways PFI under which virtually the entire road network will be improved over the next seven years in what is called the project’s Core Investment Period (CIP)”.
As recently as 2018, a senior Isle of Wight Councillor is known to have been telling members of the public that every road would be resurfaced in the first 7 years. Cllr Stuart Hutchinson said in a report to Shalfleet and Yarmouth Parish Council in 2018:
“Our Highways network continues to improve and by the end of the core investment period, which has another two years to run, every Island Road and pavement will have been brought up to a high standard. It then will be maintained at that standard for the next 20 years”.
An Island Roads spokesman has said:
“There are 18 more years of the PFI left during which we will continue to maintain and improve all types of road across the Island.
“We continue to carry out works through the normal course of the contract, and our plan is to continue the next four years of significant road improvement work that will leave us very well placed to maintain the network to the required level for the remainder of the contract.
“This means keeping the average condition across the Island above the agreed standard.
“While the programme is not as intensive as during the last seven years, the public will see lots going on, but with less disruption to local road users and visitors, particularly in the periods when holiday makers are visiting our Island and making use of the improved roads and amenities.
“In short, though the period of the most intense road improvement activity is coming to an end, the quality of the road network will continue to rise in the coming years.”