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PFI not preferred route for Sandwell despite reassessment

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council will not back private finance initiative (PFI) funding for its waste improvement plan (WIP) despite reconsidering it as an option, a councillor has told MRW.

The original July 2007 approved WIP was to secure a partnership with a private sector organisation.

But in December 2007, an external peer review (a 4Ps Gateway Review) advised the council to reassess its plans because of increases in funding through PFI credits in the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review. The council drew up a full PFI business case model as well as funding models.

However, council deputy leader Steve Eling explained: "We are looking at a number of business options to deliver our waste improvement plan.

"One of these was PFI - so we submitted an expression of interest to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, to keep all our options open.

"However, we will actually be recommending Cabinet declines the PFI route when it meets on June 11.

"The reasons for this are that on further examination there is no clear advantage to PFI for us on this issue and to pursue that route would mean ruling out all other options at this early stage. We want to keep our options open to secure the best deal possible for Sandwell."

The council will be consulting with trade unions, council members and employees on the proposed next stage of the WIP before the June 11 Cabinet meeting. But a council spokesman said that a wider stakeholder consultation, as has been reported in some sections of the press, had not been launched.

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