Tagged: Private Finance Initiative

North Labour leader says Scotland should go it alone

A former Labour mayor and trade union figure from the north of England has urged people in Scotland to vote for independence.

Craig Johnston, the former mayor of Carlisle, says a Yes vote will “energise the debate about devolution” across the UK.

Mr Johnston, a regional organiser for the RMT union, also hopes a new constitution in an independent Scotland will implement workers’ rights and “instil a bit of fairness in the workplace”.

Criticising the Labour Party, he said:

“I don’t want the Labour Party to be like it is.

“I can’t support a Labour Party that introduced the private finance initiative and let the moneylenders into the NHS – Nye Bevan’s temple.

“This is the party that oversaw the crisis, bailed out the bankers and started selling off the NHS. These are the people who are trying to scare us now.”

Dennis Canavan, chair of Yes Scotland’s advisory board, said:

“This is yet more evidence of the breadth and sheer energy of the Yes campaign.

“Craig Johnston is a highly-respected civic and political figure in Carlisle, which of course sits very close to the border and for centuries has had strong links with Scotland.”

Steve Bowditch, current Labour mayor of the city disagreed and said a Yes vote would be “extremely damaging for Carlisle”.

Source –  Newcastle Journal, 17 Sept 2014

Buy-out deal frees Hexham Hospital from PFI burden

The crippling Private Finance Initiative scheme which funded the building of the new Hexham General Hospital has been bought out.

This is thanks to a £114m loan agreement struck between Northumberland County Council and the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. The trust has pledged that the £3.5m annual savings generated by the deal would be ploughed back into frontline services.

The hospital was built 10 years ago with the help of one of the first PFIs in the country.

But the burden of PFI repayments has taken its toll on the trust’s balance sheet.

So, after two years of delicate negotiations, and with Treasury approval, the trust has signed a loan with the county council to buy out the PFI. The council has access to loans through the Public Works Board below rates available to the trust.

The loan is the first of its kind agreed between a local authority and a healthcare trust.

Trust chief executive Jim Mackey said: “We are delighted that we are able to progress this agreement which delivers real value for money for taxpayers and helps save millions of pounds which will be reinvested directly in patient care.”

County council deputy leader, Coun. Dave Ledger, said: “This announcement is excellent news for local people and the local economy.

“The loan represents good value for the residents of Northumberland as it will reduce overall borrowing costs and release resources to support frontline health and social care services across the county.

“This is a result of the very strong and close working arrangements that have existed between Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Healthcare for a number of years, resulting in some of the best examples of integrated health and social care in England.”

Source –  Hexham Courant,  11 June 2014