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Government unveils £200m PFI projects

Local authorities gain approval for thirteen schemes with private partners

THIRTEEN local council private finance projects worth more than £200 million have been approved by the government.

Local government minister Hilary Armstrong announced the new schemes on Tuesday. It is the latest development to come out of the government's spending review, which pledged £4 billion extra for PFI schemes over the next three years.

Ms Armstrong said: 'The 13 new projects announced today demonstrate the capacity of the Private Finance Initiative for improvements to the quality of life in local communities.'

Three government departments will back the schemes, under which local authorities will form partnerships with private contractors.

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions will fund the construction of 250 homes in Selby, Sherburn and Tadcaster, bus network infrastructure improvements in Walsall and replacement of street lighting in London, Manchester and Stoke-on-Trent.

The Department for Education and Employment will bankroll school rebuilding projects in Dudley, Merton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Derbyshire and the construction of a new school in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The DfEE and DETR will jointly fund the building of a new primary school and improvements to library and community facilities in Bolton. Secondary schools in Brighton & Hove and Sunderland will be refurbished and new community facilities added.

The Home Office will finance the improvement of custody units for Cheshire police.

Contractors will sign design, build, finance and operate contracts with the local authorities on all the schemes.

This is the 10th group of local council PFI projects to be endorsed by the government, which is gradually increasing its allocation of PFI funding. The year 2002/3 will see a 28 per cent increase in funds compared with 2001/2 and the government aims to double the previous allocation in 2003/4.