The complex politics of infrastructure. (15795)
Political opposition to the privatisation and private funding of urban infrastructure relies heavily on stylised constructions of economy and politics from the middle and late 20th century, and on representations of infrastructure that are difficult to find. The paper uses case studies of privatisations and private financing from the USA, UK and Australia to show the complexity of urban infrastructure provision in the contemporary period. In play are vast finance options from diverse institutions and locations, asset and institutional legacies from once-powerful public utilities, unstable government balance sheets, and contested public planning powers. Yet the demand for infrastructure spending grows, arising from maintenance needs, from expectations for rising productivity and wealth generation within urban economies, and from the need to re-engineer cities onto sustainable environmental trajectories. Innovative solutions are needed with, unfortunately, the shibboleths of progressive politics standing in the way.