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The truths they don't want you to read....

Friday, February 15, 2008

Schools PPP

The Schools PPP originally came into being to provide five new schools in the Western Isles and the grief surrounding the potential closure of Bayble and Daliburgh (and the others) all originates in this scheme.

The Government have inherited this from the last crowd, who in turn were told to bastardise the Tory PFI schemes of old, so that the profit made by the developers was better hidden, and less gratuitous and blatant.

This was disguised as a 'risk premium' and a team of Thatcherite-Blairites recruited to staff a new quango, Partnerships UK, to persuade Councils to use PPP.

Well actually, the Government told Councils that if they wanted anything done, they had to use PPP; and they had to use Partnerships UK to suck the money from Councils like vampire leeches and pass it to rich multi-national companies advise Councils on how best to line the pockets use the skills of construction companies, lawyers, accountants and any other greedy party who could get their snout in the trough.

Now admittedly the Government pass the money to Councils to pay many of the bills so the net cost to the Council is low, but the waste of public money is compensatingly enormous.

One example: the PPP model for the new schools was developed by a firm of accountants, and you had to use them if you wanted to get funding. As a Councillor and decision maker, I asked to see the model, but I was only allowed to see the data that was being input and the results being output. I was not allowed to have any information about the model that was being used, and I had to trust that the model was appropriate and actually worked.

And the accountants took no responsibility if it was wrong, as it was 'our model'.

And it cost £2,000 for every change of input data, so serious options modelling was not a viable

It was at this point that I made it clear that I wanted no part in taking a decision based on the project, as I was denied the information I needed to make a sensible choice.

The continuation of such foolishness has been encouraged by the Government, rather than allow all the cheaper funding and construction options they had promised.

But it is the impact on the Comhairle as a whole that is the most serious.

The project costs are escalating at a rate of £30,000 per week, due to the rate of inflation in the building sector, and due to nature of the Government funding the Comhairle are not in a position to delay the works, instead having to find the extra funds for this themselves.

This year 2% is being sliced from revenue budgets of £100m and a further £10m (out of a £20m budget!) from capital to try and balance the books to let the PPP go ahead. And schools are being closed as part of these savings.

Yet the Council are still having to find another £2.4m per annum for the next thirty years to bridge the funding gap - itself up from the £800,000 in the original plan.

Let me make this plain -


Anonymous said...

why are there so many comments on the (relatively) unimportant issue of sunday sailings - but so few on something like this that should bother every Christian?

Anonymous said...


My first ever comment on your blog


In the years to come this will like concrete shoes on the 6 foot tall person thrown into water 5 foot 10 inches deep - how do they keep their nose above!!?

Anonymous said...

You're talking sense at last Angus! This council has no idea what it wants to do as an education authority other than that it might build some new schools and to do that it might close some old schools and in the meantime some pupils might get an education. All stuff and nonsense. Have you noticed that the guys running the council's finances(P&R Chair and Vice) just scraped in in their election. If people in their wards have little faith in them why should the rest of us trust them?

Anonymous said...

anon 12.34
I for one don't fully understand the technical fine points that Angus is discussing. I doubt whether the majority of lay people would be able to either. Further, we only have his word for it that the deal stinks. And to quote an oft used phrase, what is the 'plan B'? Suerly not to let the muppets of the public sector loose with all that money.

Anonymous said...

just for the first two anonomi (i'm assuming that is the plural;) I would like to point out i am a Christian!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Anon 12:34: the deal does, indeed, stinketh. And you and me will be paying handsomely for it, through our local taxes, for the next 30 years.

Imagine that. Kids not yet even conceived will be, when they are well into their working lives, paying extra taxes for school buildings that shut down years, or even decades, previously.

Yep; stinks.