SHEFFIELD council has saved £50 million from the cost of the huge £2 billion contract to resurface the city’s crumbling roads and footpaths by altering loan arrangements – but minor cuts to the scope of the scheme will still go ahead.
The Government’s contribution has been reduced by £40 million, made up through minor cuts.
These have included less money for trees on the side of the road and dimming streetlights in the early hours when there are few pedestrians.
The life span of some equipment, such as traffic lights, will be extended so they are replaced after 25 years not 20.
Sheffield Council’s £50 million saving comes from its £800 million bill towards the PFI scheme – money it said it would spend anyway on maintaining roads – by changing the way it borrows the cash.
The authority is now allowed to take on some of the loans and can borrow at a cheaper rate of interest.
Most of the savings will be made in the next few years, including £12 million next year, but rather than use it to put back elements of the PFI scheme that were cut, it would be better using the money to help absorb some of the budget cuts.
Deputy council leader Coun Bryan Lodge said that £12 million being saved from the contract ‘will be a big help’: “The changes are sensible measures which will make it cheaper for the council and Sheffield residents and so improve value for money.”
Council chief executive, John Mothersole said that neither the changes to how loans are repaid nor the small cuts would affect the quality of resurfacing to roads and pavements: “This will tackle a big source of dissatisfaction. While most parts of the country are scratching their heads about how to maintain their highways budgets we are able to agree the biggest contract of its kind in the country.”