Councillor’s open letter to Northamptonshire MPs over PFI deals

Mick Scrimshaw.
Mick Scrimshaw.

An opposition councillor on Northamptonshire County Council has written to seven county MPs about the local authority’s PFI contracts.

Cllr Mick Scrimshaw (Lab) has urged the Tory MPs to back an amendment in Parliament later this month about charging a windfall tax.

Cllr Scrimshaw said: “The recent financial problems at the county council have highlighted several issuers regarding their finances.

“One of which is the long term commitments to expensive payments for PFI contracts.

“I have no intention of starting a debate about whether these contracts were a good thing or which political party holds the most responsibility because the truth is whatever the rights or wrongs, these expensive contracts are crippling local councils and other public sector bodies.

“Only last month the National Audit Office issued a report saying these contracts were upwards of 40 per cent more expensive than other funding mechanisms.

“One of the difficulties for councils has been trying to get the PFI companies to renegotiate these deals so either they can get out of them completely or at least renegotiate better terms and conditions.

“The companies understandably do not want to discuss themselves getting a worse financial deal.

“To that end there is an amendment to be discussed in Parliament on February 21 to a government finance bill being promoted by Stella Creasey MP about charging a windfall tax on the excessive profits of these companies.”

Cllr Scrimshaw said backing the amendment could have a ‘massive’ beneficial impact on Northamptonshire.

His letter added: “The motivation for this is for it to act as an incentive to get the PFI companies to the negotiating table so perhaps a more effective way forward can be found.

“I would urge you all to support this amendment.

“If you are a serious about the need for more money for our local public services, this one act alone could have a massive beneficial impact in Northamptonshire and has the potential to free up millions of pounds that could then be used to provide local services and help get the county council out of the hole it has dug itself into.”