Use council bonds for infrastructure, top engineer urges

The Chancellor should encourage local councils to fund new infrastructure projects by using government-backed municipal bonds, according to a top boss at CrossRail contractor URS.

Tom Bishop, chairman of the engineering giant in Europe, Middle East and Asia, said he hoped that George Osborne's Autumn Statement this week will look at alternative financial models such as municipal bonds to bolster investment in the UK's infrastructure.

"There's a lot of pent-up capital out there and investors want attractive homes for their money. Municipal bonds are used by local government in the US to great effect as they give investors a long-term return and help kick-start the local economy," he said. "In California they have been used to help finance local schools and new highways. The UK should be looking at this – as well as other mechanisms – to attract much-needed new investment."

The US group, which has its European headquarters in London, employs 3,000 people in the UK and is the largest contractor on the HS2 high-speed rail and CrossRail projects.

Mr Bishop added: "I'm looking for the Chancellor to shine a spotlight on the entire private finance initiative process. The British model has huge strengths, but we need to make it far more transparent with proper disclosure, processes, protocols and above all performance and payment criteria. Bold steps need to be taken to sell the concept more convincingly to all the stakeholders involved."

He also recommended setting up a new independent authority charged with providing proper governance over all applications of the private finance initiative (PFI) process and a better focus on explaining why the public-private partnership model can achieve the best value for funds investing in long-term projects.

City backs Osborne

George Osborne has received the thumbs-up from City investors in the run-up to Wednesday's Autumn Statement. Nearly two-thirds of leading fund managers backed the Conservatives as having the best plan for the economy, according to a survey from the spreadbetter Capital Spreads. 83 per cent believe Labour's plans are "weak", while 82 per cent made the same judgement on the Liberal Democrats, although the Coalition Government was given a pat on the back – 67 per cent approve of its attempts to tackle the economic crisis.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea