24 January 2007
John Reed, Project Director at 4ps, champions both the effective service that street lighting provides to our communities and the PFI projects that are delivering the goods.
Since the first scheme in Brent, which was signed in December 1998, street lighting PFI has matured into one of the more successful local authority PFI sectors. By January 2007, the Department for Transport or Government Office London have approved Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funding for 35 English local authority street lighting projects, and have allocated new funding of some £1.3bn for these projects. Sixteen of these projects are in operation, four are in procurement and 15 are preparing Outline Business Cases.
4ps has recently undertaken operational reviews on 11 of the street lighting PFI projects in operation and found that the projects are delivering at or above expectations. There is a significant improvement in service standards, and local authorities are receiving good or very good feedback on user satisfaction. One of the key factors behind these successes is the partnering approach adopted by local authorities and service providers.
Street lighting is a highly visible, front line, local authority service. Good street lighting provides a vital service during the hours of darkness, protecting people and property, and enhancing the night-time environment to encourage greater use of local facilities in the evenings. Effective street lighting also deters criminal activity and reduces road accidents.
Despite the above, street lighting is a service that is often taken for granted. It is part of the infrastructure of roads, villages, towns and cities. Street lighting enhances life in a way that is only appreciated when it fails. Failure to deliver an adequate service can quickly become a concern to local residents and road users, as is often demonstrated through the feedback to local authorities from customer satisfaction surveys.
There is widespread concern in local authorities regarding the structural condition of the estimated 7.4 million items of street lighting apparatus in the United Kingdom. In recent years there have been a number of cases of street lighting columns collapsing, occasionally with fatal results. Various studies have suggested that further investment is required as a matter of urgency, both to remove lighting columns that are dangerous and in need of replacement, and to replace apparatus by the newer, more energy-efficient equipment that is now available.
Using the PFI or a Public Private Partnership (PPP) for street lighting provision allows a local authority to obtain investment by a service provider for better and more efficient apparatus in order to improve the safety and performance of the street lighting service. The 'spend to save' benefits of this approach, together with the benefits of procuring the whole service rather than the individual components, demonstrates that procurement through the PFI or a partnership route is a better way to optimise whole life costs and service delivery.
4ps has helped the development of street lighting PFI by providing hands-on transactor support to projects. 4ps has also recently published the third update of the Street Lighting Procurement Pack that includes a full suite of model documentation for each stage of the procurement process, including a sector specific model contract approved by the Department for Transport, Partnerships UK and HM Treasury.
4ps is also undertaking an active role in the new wave of 15 projects that are currently preparing Outline Business Cases by programme managing this round of projects, which includes undertaking a Single Pre-Qualification. 4ps issued the Single
OJEU Notice on 3rd January 2007 and this exercise is expected to produce significant savings for local authorities and bidders, and reduce procurement timescales. 4ps will also be actively working with project teams to ensure that projects are in a good position to keep to their planned timetables and managing the market, including the phasing of projects entering competitive dialogue.
Hi, street lighting is obviously a key infrastructure that provides a service required by all. Can you help with what success has been achieved by the PPP approach over the years?
Dr. Gbadebo Adenrele - Lagos State/Nigeria/Vetiva Capital Management Limited