Say No to PFI

Private Finance Initiatives or PFI schemes are one of the biggest scandals affecting education, health and welfare today.  Started by the last Tory government and supported since by New Labour and the Lib Dems at national and local level despite their horrendous costs and appalling implications for democracy and public accountability of major services.  Essentially PFI transfers financing of public projects to private financiers and loan sharks so that we commonly end up paying at least 2-3 times the real costs.  Furthermore the same consortiums of financiers and builders then run the facilities for anything up to 35 years, charging us extortionate rates for management and maintenance.  The reason given for all this is that it supposedly cuts down on government spending and develops a partnership (current buzzword) between public and private interests.  The only partnership, as is being increasingly discovered, is similar to that between a parasite and its victim. 

 In Northampton we have one of the biggest PFI education schemes in Europe that is costing us £863 million for schools that were built for £235 million, a NHS mental hospital at Marina and perhaps, if the Lib Dems get their way on the Borough Council, a PFI scheme for council housing.  We detail below more information on some of the schemes and attach some of the leaflets the SOS campaign has issued on the subject and which have formed the basis of our repeated exposure of these schemes to the public, press and local councils. 

What do the Lib Dems really believe on PFI schemes?

They claim to oppose them but now bring one in for their council housing in the NBC?

The Libs and their parliamentary candidates have got themselves into a right pickle over the last year or so over their response to SOS's campaign against the PFI schools scheme.  The fact is that they supported this crazy scheme when it was introduced by New Labour a few years ago.  They now try to get our of that responsibility by arguing, whenever the matter comes up, that they don't believe that selling of the schools fields as a bloc will gain the most funds.  It has been pointed out to them that arguing that schools fields should be sold off seperately is not the same as opposing the PFI scheme but they are trapped by their past and present politics and try to side track the debate into how best to raise funds for it.

Now however, as if to give conclusive proof of their attitude to PFI, they are introducing a PFI scheme of their own over the road at the NBC.  This scheme of theirs is to use PFI funding for repairs of council housing, a deal that will probably see the financiers gaining control over council homes and perhaps many council assets.  When the apparent contradiction between this action and their supposed opposition to PFI was raised by this writer, with their prospective MP Paul Varnsverry, his reply was along the lines that the Lib Dem administartion would be a lot cleverer than the tories in their negotiations with the banks and would make PFI work!  Good to know that the Libs have such confidence in their own abilities, especially when PFI contracts are designed precisely to enable the bankers and builders to get guaranteed returns and profits 2-3 times the real costs.  The Lib Dems naivety is truely staggering, but it is us who will have to pay the price unless they are stopped.

Footnote:  One of the important side issues of the PFI scheme is the the sell off of so called redundant school fields and the control of the PFI companies of all remaning school fields in Northampton.  There have been massive rises in hiring charges of fields since the private companies took over control and many clubs and societies have folded because of the costs.   In the sales blurb of the PFI companies prior to the schemes it was claimed there would be ' managed community access agreements' negotiated between the contractors and the community to establish continuing  use at reasonable prices of the fields and school facilities.  Questions were asked at the Borough Council about what councillors had done to enforce these agreements and the Lib Dem repsonsible Richard Church said he would look into it as he sat on the WNDC.  That was 18 months ago and nothing has happened and he has not even come back with an answer?


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