Up until now Islanders have been led to believe that virtually all roads on the Isle of Wight would be resurfaced during a period known as the Core Investment Period (CIP), with a further 18 years of maintenance and repair work to the upgraded network.
A typical CIP runs for 5 years but it was agreed at the start of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract between Island Roads and the Isle of Wight Council to extend that to 7 years, to run from April 2013 to April 2020.
Now, with less than 12 months left of the CIP, it has been revealed that a number of roads that are yet to be resurfaced as part of the PFI contract may not be completed for another 4 years – 10 years after the resurfacing programme began.
Roads such as Daniel Street, Circular Road and North Walk in Ryde are not set to be resurfaced by Island Roads until 2023/24. The list of roads yet to be resurfaced it thought to be fairly long, but an online map which shows the programme of works for the coming years was removed at the start of Island Echo‘s investigations and has not returned to the Island Roads website.
The ‘work in your area’ section is currently being updated, Island Echo is told.
A statement issued by Island Roads in August 2013 reads:
“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 last year, 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”.
The resurfacing of footways (pavements) across the Island has progressed, but seems unlikely to be completed by the end of the CIP. In contrast, the replacement of street lighting was completed sometime ago and the replacement of traffic lights is progressing well.
A spokesperson for Island Roads has told Island Echo:
“The Highway Improvement Programme is a long-term, 25-year-contract to improve and maintain the Island’s highway network.
“While the most intensive period of improvement work is in the first seven years (what is known as the Core Investment Period, or CIP), there is an ongoing requirement to keep roads and footways up to the standards required by the contract until 2038.
“To do this, it will be necessary to treat roads and footways throughout the life of the contract. The level of improvement work will not be as intense as during the CIP but it will nevertheless be significant. Therefore, if a road is not scheduled for treatment during the CIP, it does not mean it will not be improved in subsequent years.
“It also needs to be remembered that the upgrading of the highway network extends beyond just resurfacing. It covers all of the highway assets, including the replacement of the entire street lighting with energy efficient LED street lights, upgrading of all signs, bollards, shelters, litter bins, traffic lights, retaining walls, bridges and CCTV cameras. The total capital investment so far has exceeded £125m so far and these improvements will continue beyond the CIP”.
It is thought additional changes to the PFI contract will come into force in April next year, just as the CIP ends. In a report published by the Isle of Wight Council, it has been said:
“A savings programme has been established and agreed with Island Roads (IR) and reports made to a dedicated savings board. The programme aims to deliver savings in two phases – phase one will target operations and maintenance works (O&M) commencing April 2019 with further efficiency savings to be identified by IR from April 2020“.