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MPs slam shadow tolls

HIGHWAYS AGENCY officials failed to get best value for money from the first four DBFO roads because they insisted on using a shadow toll payment mechanism, a House of Commons committee concluded last week.

A report published by the all party Public Accounts Committee says the Agency created new risks by deciding to pay contractors according to the number of vehicles using roads they were in charge of.

'Bidders can be expected to have included a premium in their pricing for taking these risks which is likely to have reduced the value for money offered by these contracts,' says the report.

The committee also criticised the use of private finance on the A69 and A419/A417 as these had been shown by the National Audit Office to have been more expensive than conventionally procured projects (NCE 29 January).

MPs complained that the Treasury had encourage the Agency to use the wrong assumptions when calculating the value of the privately financed options, so that a DBFO solution looked more favourable when compared with a publicly funded alternative.

The Private Finance Initiative: the first four design, build finance and operate roads, available from HMSO, price £7.70.

(see Commentary page 10)

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