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Annex FOI Request 3132 - Metrix PFI project
1. Why is this massive PFI to be imposed on Wales?
The PFI in question is a Ministry of Defence project. The Welsh Assembly Government has endorsed this investment as a major opportunity for Wales and the South East Wales regional economy. It will complement our plans for the development of an Aerospace Business Park on the St Athan site. Accordingly, the Assembly Government actively promoted the site to potential bidders and we welcome this significant investment in jobs and engineering skills training in Wales.
2. When is there going to be a debate in the Assembly about the St
Athan Metrix PFI?
The First Minister made an oral statement in the Senedd on 17 January 2007. Since then, Assembly Members have on several occasions raised with Ministers the development proposals for St Athan during oral questions in the Senedd. It should be noted that public input on the development proposals for St Athan has been actively sought from the beginning, firstly through the St Athan Development Brief which was published in July 2006 following public consultation; and the current round of public consultation events which commenced last summer and is continuing through to Spring of this year. Further information about the public consultation is available at www.st-athanconsultation.co.uk.
3. Is the DTR PFI on the brink of collapse and have AMs and WAG
questioned the viability of the project?
Questions about the financial viability of the Defence Training Review Package 1 programme are a matter for the Ministry of Defence as sponsors of the project. Plans for the St Athan Development Scheme, which include the Defence Technical College and an Aerospace Business Park, are being actively pursued. Public consultation events on the draft plans are currently on-going to help inform the planning applications which are expected to be submitted in early May 2009.
Request for information about the activities of Assembly Members should be addressed to the National Assembly for Wales Commission, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF99 1NA.
4. What amount and from which sources is taxpayer's money involved?
How much of this is coming from Wales?
Funding for the Defence Technical College is a matter for the Ministry of Defence to whom questions about this public private partnership programme should be addressed. The Welsh Assembly Government is facilitating the St Athan development, including our plans for an Aerospace Business Park, through land assembly and the provision of infrastructure. As there will be shared use of infrastructure, arrangements are currently being negotiated with the Ministry of Defence for the proportionate repayment of costs. At this stage therefore the funding attributable to Wales has yet to be agreed. I will write to you with the funding implications for Wales as soon as agreement has been reached.
5. Have the Welsh Assembly Government been briefed on the latest
funding situation since the withdrawal of LST?
The funding of the Package 1 DTR programme is a matter for the Ministry of Defence and Metrix. The Assembly Government has noted the announcement by Metrix of a new equity partner to replace LST.
6. Will Metrix make up cash shortfall by training private armies,
regardless of their human rights record, and is there anything the
WAG or AMs can do to stop them doing that?
The question concerns the operational arrangements for the new Defence Technical College and as such should be addressed to the Ministry of Defence and the Metrix consortium.
7. Why has the St Athan consultation website not been updated and
why is still no feed back from the consultations that have already
taken place as long ago as July 2008.(http://www.st-athanconsultation.co.uk/)
The website has now been updated and contains detailed information about the consultation programme to date, including the analysis from the summer/autumn 2008 events. I am sorry it has taken longer than we expected. I should explain that it wasn't until November/December that the analyses, involving fairly detailed comments in some cases, could begin as the feedback period for the public to submit comments did not close until end October. It remains our intention to post on the web site as quickly as possible a report of the workshops and interest group meetings held this year. I would encourage you to contact the consultation helpline - 0845 6160016 or e-mail email@example.com - if you have any specific questions about any aspect of the proposed development.
8. How much is the WAG contributing toward this consultation?
The public consultation concerns the St Athan Development Scheme, which broadly comprises the Defence Technical College and plans to create a new Aerospace Business Park. The latter is being developed by the Welsh Assembly Government and we have therefore agreed to contribute approximately £85,600 towards the overall costs of the public consultation.
9. Visitors to the DTA exhibition complained of a “lack of detailed
information”. Have the issues raised there been addressed? Will the academy be an “isolated, gated village“? Would nearby towns see an increase in “squaddie rowdiness and drop outs from the academy”?
It was made clear from the outset and explained to those attending the exhibitions that the master plans was still evolving and therefore many of the details had still to be agreed. The public consultation events provide scope for local residents and the public to influence the emerging site plans. Follow up workshops and interest group meetings have been held to discuss the sort of issues you have raised, for example the Community Welfare Interest Group held on 4 March addressed, amongst other things, how military and civilian populations will integrate and issues around site security and access for civilians. A report on this event will be published on the consultation website in due course.
10. In related news `Wales on Line' reports - £100m plus plan that
is being considered, to build a new road to Cardiff International
Airport: It has been suggested that the road would be to serve the
St Athan training academy. is this true? Would it not be an outrage to spend such huge amounts of Welsh public money on feather-bedding the training academy project?
The airport link road study is a completely separate exercise and does not form part of the plans for the St Athan development. Clearly however, improvements to the road network to the airport from the M4 could also benefit the St Athan development given its close proximity to the airport. When developing proposals, the airport link road study team has to take cognisance of the planning status of various developments which could impact on the study. The teams working on these two sets of proposals are therefore liaising closely to ensure that the relevant improvements to road links in the Vale are considered in a joined up way.
11. Why should Welsh taxpayers subsidise private organisations?
The Defence Technical College is a Ministry of Defence Public Private Partnership project. The Welsh Assembly Government is investing in new infrastructure at St Athan as part of our plans to develop an Aerospace Business Park.
12. How many meetings have AMs had with Metrix officials?
The Welsh Assembly Government does not hold information on meetings held by Assembly Members. Request for information about the activities of Assembly Members should be addressed to the National Assembly for Wales Commission, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF99 1NA.
13. As a new partner Sodexo is involved in a much greater capacity, what information have the WAG got or asked for about this company?
The consortium structure is a matter for Metrix. The Metrix consortium informed us on 10 February 2009 about the announcement that it had secured a new partner - copies of the relevant e-mails are attached.
Sodexo - key strengths!
1. Member of the consortium from the beginning:
* Know the project well so we don't need to start from scratch - can transition easily
* We know each other well which is good from a relationship perspective
2. Bring extensive experience in the PFI and PPP projects including the UK:
* No of significant PFI contracts in the UK: 17 and aggressively looking to grow portfolio across healthcare, defence, education, prisons
* Total value of PFI contracts in the UK in last financial year (August 2008): £221m pounds in annual service turnover, which equates to 20 per cent of UK turnover
* Significant long-term contracts - approx average length of contract: 30 years
* Provide a wide range of services, including design, construction, management and funding.
* Queens Hospital, Romford - £18m pa in turnover. Fully integrated facilities management to one of the largest acute hospital trusts in England [serving a population of around 750,000]
* HMP Addiewell, Scotland - projected annual turnover of £17.5m when fully operational. Kalyx, the correctional arm of Sodexo, awarded contract to design, construct, manage and fund Scotland's first new prison for almost ten years housing 750 prisoners
3. They know the MOD very well
* understand MOD ethos and military culture
* eg Colchester Garrison - turnover £18m pa. £2bn contract to provide working and living accommodation for more than 4,200 military and civilian staff, including the construction of over 130 buildings.
4. Property experience but service provision more important anyway
* eg 3 prisons and over 130 buildings at Colchester
* Property relatively straightforward - we wanted their expertise in service delivery
5. Financially sound multinational company:
* UK and Ireland - 43,000 employees providing food and facilities management service at over 2,300 locations
* part of the Sodexo Group, the number one global provider of food and facilities management services, with more than 355,000 employees at more than 30,000 sites in 80 countries.
* strong balance sheet / cash
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