TENS of thousands of pounds is to be spent rebranding Sheffield Council’s highways maintenance vehicles before any new surfaces are laid under the 25-year contract to revamp the city’s crumbling roads and pavements.
Opposition councillors have raised concerns that taxpayers’ money could be used to cover the cost of giving the Street Force fleet new logos and liveries by construction firm Amey - the company awarded the £2 billion Private Finance Initiative project.
Sheffield Council has pledged the cost will be ‘kept to a minimum’ - but with several hundred vehicles to rebrand the bill could still run into tens of thousands.
Mac Millard, aged 76, a retired member of Sheffield Motorists’ Forum, from Longley, said: “It would be disgraceful if the cost was to come out of taxpayers’ money.”
And Green Party Central Ward councillor Rob Murphy, who has criticised the way the project is paid for due to the high cost to the taxpayer of borrowing the money, said: “Money spent on rebranding is the tip of the iceberg.
“From the tens of extra millions of pounds spent on private borrowing, to inability to make efficiencies in the contract for decades to come, PFI is widely accepted as a bad deal for taxpayers.”
Coun Murphy added: “The council will ultimately pick up the bill for the rebranding and I don’t think that is a good way to spend public money at a time of massive cuts to services.”
Former Lib Dem Sheffield Council leader Coun Paul Scriven called for steps to be taken to ensure Amey covers the rebranding costs itself.
He said: “Amey is a private company and, if it wants to rebrand vehicles, that is a matter for them. However, the ruling Labour Party should be stipulating very clearly Amey has to pick up the bill, and it is not something to be funded by local taxpayers.”
Michael Platt, Sheffield Council’s project director for the Highway Maintenance PFI scheme, said: “The cost of rebranding for the Highway Maintenance PFI Project will fall within Amey’s remit as part of the contract and is therefore Amey’s responsibility.
“However, both the council and Amey will ensure that the cost for this is kept to a minimum. Discussions on this issue are at an early stage and no decisions have been made.”