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Barnet Tories abandon PFI

One of London's biggest councils has taken the dramatic step of dropping the controversial PFI procurement method, citing design standards as one of the main factors.

The London Borough of Barnet has instead plumped for a different form of Public Private Partnership as a way to retain control over architecture and construction quality.

The Tory council is investing £90 million of its own money in its Primary School Capital Investment Programme (PSCIP) instead of seeking cash from other sources.

In what may be seen as a sign of a possible Conservative U-turn on PFI policy, council leaders intend to rebuild 11 of the borough's primary schools in the first wave of the programme, and refurbish one.

They said they opted for the PPP system and rejected the PFI route because 'it was expensive and was not certain to deliver its aim - versatile, well-built and sustainable schools which also offered good value for money'.

Council leader Michael Freer said he looked forward to the success of the borough's chosen scheme.

'The business plan to support the programme has been rigorously tested and I am 100 per cent confident it will succeed.

'The benefit is that every one of our primary schools will be rebuilt or refurbished and out first-class education results will be matched by first class teaching facilities,' he added.

by Ed Dorrell

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