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MINISTER ANNOUNCES FUNDING BOOST TO MODERNISE ENGLAND'S STREET LIGHTS (ENGLAND)

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The government is making£300m available in 2003/04 to help...
The government is making£300m available in 2003/04 to help

local authorities modernise their street lighting, with the promise

of more money to follow, transport minister John Spellar has

announced.

An annual bidding round will be introduced from March 2003, which

will allow local authorities in England (except London) to bid for

Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funding for their projects.

The government estimates that across England there is a£1bn backlog

in the maintenance of street lighting, a problem that it is

determined to tackle. A survey by the Institution of Lighting

Engineers estimated that 27% of street light columns were now over 30

years old. Left unchecked, that situation could lead to danger for

all road users.

Announcing the new funding, Mr Spellar said:

'Our£180bn Ten Year Plan for Transport gives the commitment to

eliminate the maintenance backlog in street lighting. The new funding

that I have announced today will lead to a better and safer road

network for everyone.

'The decision to introduce an annual bidding round with large amounts

of money available will ensure that England's street lighting is not

only renewed, but also improved. This will bring brighter, lighter

streets, while also reducing crime and road accidents.'

Full details of how local authorities can apply for this new funding

will be issued later in the year. A separate bidding round will

operate in London, where a further£85m will be available for

street lighting PFI schemes over the next three years.

NOTES

The first annual bidding round will be launched in March 2003 with

all local highways authorities in England (outside London) being

invited to submit an Expression of Interest for their street lighting

project proposals. Further information about the bidding round

process will be issued in December to give authorities extra time to

prepare for this first round, to which£300m has been

allocated. However, not all of this allocation will be used if there

are insufficient bids of a high enough standard.

A parallel bidding scheme will also be undertaken for London boroughs

by the Government Office for London, which has its own PFI credit

allocation.

So far, two street lighting projects have commenced operation in

England, in Brent and Walsall. A further seven schemes are currently

at procurement stage, having been endorsed by the Project Review

Group (PRG), the Office of Government Commerce group that assesses

all local authority PFI projects.

A list of all endorsed PFI projects is on the websiteof the ODPM. Further information

about the OGC may be obtained from their website (www.ogc.gov.uk).

Projects endorsed by the PRG and included in the list become eligible

for revenue support as long as current proposals are translated into

contracts. Endorsements are given for the year in which the project

is expected to reach contract close and for a specified amount. If

these circumstances change a project may have to be re-appraised by

PRG.

The general criteria used in prioritising which projects are put

forward to the PRG were sent to local authorities on 21 December 1998

and 23 December 1999. They may also be viewed on the page headed

'Criteria for Assessing Schemes' on the ODPM's website.

The procedures and the published lists relate only to projects

requiring extra revenue support from central government. Projects

that are financially free-standing and so do not require central

government revenue support do not have to be considered by the PRG.

This announcement relates only to local authority PFI projects in

England. Separate arrangements apply elsewhere.

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