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Partnership and honesty keep PFI housing on track


Sir, It was with great interest that I read the article on PFI Housing by Jeffrey Adams (Viewpoint, August 18) and would like to offer my response to a number of the points he made.

As someone who is working on the very first Pathfinder PFI Housing Schemes in the UK at Grove Village, Manchester, I thought I could offer an insight into why all parties involved believe it is a success.

PFI schemes are a great way to enable social change but I agree with Jeffrey that there is no real need for some of the painfully protracted negotiations that others have gone through.

In my experience at Grove Village, the key to getting things moving from the beginning was the adoption of an informal partnership approach and being (sometimes painfully) honest in the negotiating process. We found that this openness meant all parties took the partnership approach to heart.

This has done away with the traditional contractually aggressive and adversarial posturing, which has consequently led to everyone getting on site much faster.

I would also echo Jeffrey's comments regarding the legal aspects. There is no precedent and so we are all feeling our way to an extent.

It is fair to say that the contracts and legal agreements are not perfect, but it is vital that all parties are flexible and are prepared to carry out work which, strictly speaking, they may not get paid for.

In order for partnering to succeed there is a need to satisfy the bigger picture and behave in a manner that is for the long-term common good rather than one that satisfies immediate contractual obligations.

Again, this stems from the partnering philosophy and will stand the scheme in good stead in the future.

At Grove Village we have achieved good working relationships, which make us very optimistic for the future. There has been some measure of short-term pain, but I am in no doubt that it will result in long term gain.

John Howe Director of service and maintenance Powerminster Don Road Sheffield