And so it's been announced that Bradford Council are going to go ahead with plans to pass management of Ickley's buildings (including the Lido, White Wells, the Winter Gardens) to private companies and then pay that company to ensure their upkeep. The three companies in the frame are Carrillion, Mapeley Accord, and LST. And I've raised problems with all of them before. I am assuming the Council wil be thinking along the following lines in its negotiations... 1) Bradford Council claim that the risk of running the buildings will completely be passed over to the private companies. If it is, this will be a first. The interest for such companies in such deals is that the risk always remains with the public sector. This is why PFIs and PPPs are so profitable. I am assuming Bradford will ensure that all risks, then, remain with the private sector and that there are no get out clauses (acts of god, 'accidental' burnings down of the building, that sort of thing). 2) The point for private companies of being involved in such deals is to make a profit. And how do they do this? By paying minimum wage and squeezing every penny, of course. What guarantees has the Council got regarding the standard of maintenance? Perhaps they should look at the appalling lack of cleanliness, the leaking roofs and other problems in schools and hospitals managed by their favourite three bidders? 3) Carillion was responsible for the first PFI hospital--Dartford and Gravesham. The NAO reported that this hospital was no cheaper and possibly more expensive than a traditional rebuild. I'm assuming the council has carefully checked all the figures, and ensured there's no clause allowing a slip-through of added extras? 4) Which brings me to the question of Capital expenditure--presumably the Council is expecting the private company to pay for this? Has it developed a set scale of what will be required or are we talking purely about revenue maintenance expenditure? It's worth looking at the record of PFIs with regard to Capital expenditure--the majority of NHS Trusts operating PFIs have found themselves paying up to a SIX fold increase in the percentage of income used for capital costs AFTER the creation of the PFI (Dartford and Gravesham trust coming out worst again); I assume the Council isn't expecting the good tax payers of Ickley to shell out? 5) As Addingham Councillor Palmer has pointed out, there is nothing in the agreements to stop the companies involved selling the contracts on to other companies. Which means lower standards and worse problems. In the last six months, there's been a spate of PFI stakes sold to off-shore companies (Barclays Private Equity, Star Capital and others). These funds have no interest other than to make money for their very rich investors, and to cut costs wherever possible, while remaining essentially unaccountable. 6) And then there's the question of whether Bradford Council are even allowed to do this. The assets of Ickley are owned (like the moor) by the people of Ilkley. Perhaps Frazer could comment? Especially on White Wells... Time for independence once more.