Tag: councils

Public Sector Round-Up 12.02.21

Weekly UK tender publishing update




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Award Notices
Tender notices published in the UK between 05.02.21 & 11.02.21

In the news this week

New £10 million fund to drive private sector investment in nature
A new environment improvement fund will create numerous opportunities for businesses, by allowing them to seek grants of up to £100,000 or bid for contracts to help local authorities implement their own environmentally friendly projects.
The Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund aims to encourage a range of nature projects across England, with the intent of developing them to a point where they can attract private investment. The aim is to create a pipeline of projects for the private sector to invest in, and develop new funding models that can be replicated elsewhere.

Wales commits to net zero by 2050, but sets out ambitions to get there sooner
The Welsh Government has set out its legal commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, but is pushing to make significant improvements by 2030.
Their plan focuses on achieving cleaner air, ending harmful agricultural pollution, moving from fossil fuel extraction and towards green energy, as well as working towards a net zero public sector in Wales by 2030 and making Wales a zero waste nation.
We have seen a lot of projects already in other parts of the UK which aim to reduce environmental impact by replacing windows, improving insulation, adding solar panels and other improvements to cut public sector emissions. With wales making a significant effort for the entire public sector, there will be numerous contract opportunities created as a result.
Our tender search filters allow you to adjust results by region, and by industry. Start searching for opportunities today: www.tendersdirect.co.uk

Voi launches long term scooter rental in West of England
The West of England Combined Authority will be the first place in the UK to offer long-term e-scooter rental, with residents able to keep a Voi vehicle at home for months at a time.
E-scooters are getting a lot of attention as greener and socially distanced forms of transport. The WECA started their e-scooters trials last year, but other regions are looking to run similar projects. This week alone both Rochdale and Colchester provided updates on their own e-scooter trials.

Top high value contract award notices

Title: United Kingdom-Preston: Security services
Short description: Manned security service across several business parks to protect the properties on site and prevent unauthorised access to the premises.
Published By: Lancashire County Developments (Property) Ltd
Date Published: 10 February 2021
Framework/DPS: No
Value excluding VAT: £932,755.20
Number of tenders received: 17
Contractors: FGH Security LtdFGH Security Ltd
View full notice on Tenders Direct

Title: United Kingdom-London: Cargo handling and storage services
Short description: a multi-supplier framework for the packing and transport of fine art, objects, storage of works, entire exhibitions and exhibition fixtures and fittings.
Published By: The Mayor and Commonalty and Citizens of the City of London
Date Published: 10 February 2021
Framework/DPS: Yes
Value excluding VAT: €3,800,000.00
Number of tenders received: 5
Contractors: MTEC Momart Crown Martinspeed | Constantine
View full notice on Tenders Direct

Title: United Kingdom-Weston-Super-Mare: Construction work for highways, roads
Short description: Replacement road over rail bridge at Winterstoke Road, Weston-super-Mare
Published by: North Somerset Council
Date Published: 10 February 2021
Framework/DPS: No
Value excluding VAT: £6,440,664.00
Number of tenders received: 5
Contractors: John Graham Construction Ltd
View full notice on Tenders Direct

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For more information about we can help you find and win more work in the public sector, please visit www.tendersdirect.co.uk or call us on 0800 222 9009.

Tories will ‘unleash an army of armchair auditors’ to spend money better

Francis Maude - Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

Francis Maude - Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester yesterday, Francis Maude, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said the party would publish online, every item of government expenditure over £25,000 and all government tender documents for contracts worth over £10,000.

The Shadow Minister said that he thought that this would allow ‘an army of armchair auditors’ to crawl all over the governments accounts and not only help them to spend money better, but it would also help to rebuild trust.

This isn’t the first time that politicians have promised to make government procurement more transparent:

  • In 2003 the Better Regulation Task Force published ‘Government Supporter and Customer?’ Recomendation No. 1 was that the government should advertise ‘lower value contracts from across central government and include information on future contract opportunities.’ This set the scene for the Supply2.gov website, which due to a woeful lack of support from the Department of Business failed to reach its true potential and is due to be replaced by a new website implementing the Glover recommendations (see below).
  • In 2005 the Office of Government Commerce and the Small Business Service published ‘Smaller supplier…..better value?‘ which pointed out the challenges facing SME’s and how the government could help by publishing their future contracts online.
  • Also in 2005 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (when John Prescott was still a force to be reckoned with) published the ‘Small Business Friendly Concordat: Good Practice Guidance’ which yet again urged public sector organisations to use their websites to publish ‘details of forthcoming bidding opportunities.’
  • In 2006 the then Scottish Executive published a ‘Review of Public Procurement in Scotland’ authored by John McClelland, which recommended that ‘a single public sector “electronic portal” should be established. Suppliers must be able to access all essential information on opportunities to offer services and bid for contracts for the supply of commodities and services to the whole Public Sector in Scotland.’ This report resulted in the establishment of the rather effective Public Contracts Scotland website in 2008, which is run by the (some say, brilliant) team behind Tenders Direct.
  • Most recently in November 2008, the Glover report or ‘Accelerating the SME economic engine: through transparent, simple and strategic procurement,’ as it was more formally known, yet again, you guessed it, recommended that:
    • ‘By 2010, contract opportunities above £20,000 across the whole public sector should be advertised electronically with standard indicative contract value ranges, and accessible through a single, free, easy to search online portal.’

So at numerous times over the last six years, various politicians, government departments, quango’s and notable report authors have called for more transparency in the publication of government contracts.

The main barrier to progress has definitely been the lack of a clear lead by central government, either to publish its own contracts, or to establish an infrastructure and clear guidelines or regulations to ensure that other public bodies publish their contracts. The secondary barrier has been an unwillingness by staff in local authorities, NHS trusts, etc., to publish their contracts. This unwilling attitude stems from a variety of reasons such as a fear that they will be inundated with suppliers, that they want to keep contracts for local suppliers, that they ‘know’ who the best suppliers are anyway. Provided the procurement activity is approached professionally these fears are either groundless, well intentioned, but illegal and ineffective, or simply wrong. All of them get in the way of efficient procurement, or as the Right Honorable Member for Horsham put it yesterday we need to ‘spend money better.’

 The Department for Business and the Office of Government Commerce have been making some progress towards implementing the recommendations contained in the Glover Report. Unfortunately progress appears to have slowed as the General Election looms closer. At least it seems that the Tories have a similar, if not even greater, enthusiasm to open up public procurement, so that regardless of who wins power next year we should have a new era of open access to government contracts.

“Innovation in Procurement” the next new buzz phrase?

John Denham, the Communities Secretary who is responsible for local government, yesterday held a meeting with innovation and procurement experts from the private sector, academia and the public sector.

Mr. Denham started the meeting by saying that “Councils have proved they can be efficient….” well I think that’s news to most taxpayers, who would like to see a considerable improvement in the efficiency of their local authority. He went on to say that “given the economic climate their £42 billion buying power must be made to work harder,” in contrast to the earlier hollow praise I think that’s something we can all agree on.

Mr Denham set out three new approaches that his officials belive that councils should consider:

  1. think more carefully about how to use the buying power that big budgets bring – as big players in several markets or as early adopters of fledgling or innovative markets;
  2. think about how collective buying power can be used to secure greater efficiencies and get future benefits with that money. For example when Government agrees housing contracts they now require apprenticeships to be offered to as part of that deal; and
  3. change the culture of government contracting so it asks industry to find value for money solutions rather than tender for pre-determined products.

In my view the third of these approaches is probably the most powerful and, if widely adopted, would reap the greatest savings. As an example from our own business, we are frequently asked to bid for the provision of web-based electronic tendering systems. We’ve been providing these systems for almost 10 years and so we don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that we have learnt a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t work. Yet, when we get the invitation to tender it almost always includes a very detailed specification, not just of what the client wants to achieve, but also how we should do it. How does the client know? What experience have they got of running a website, or an electronic tendering system? We often hear talk of ‘outcome based specifications’ but I don’t think I have ever genuinely seen one.

The civil servants at the Communities Department included some examples of procuring for solutions, i.e. asking the suppliers how best to solve their problem, rather than telling them how they would like it to be solved. Two solutions that I think are worthy of a wider audience were as follows:

  • Each year, HM Prisons (HMPS) threw away about 60,000 foam mattresses and pillows, with the majority sent to landfill or disposed of as clinical waste. Instead of continuing with contracts to buy new mattresses they challenged suppliers to find a way to deliver zero waste, recycle all its mattresses and pillows not classified as hazardous, cut hazardous mattresses by 2 per cent per annum and bring costs down. After 30 tenders HMPS signed (in March) a contact which uses innovative new mattress covers that will reduce turnover and all but eliminate the need for clinical waste disposal. No mattresses will be sent to landfill, instead they will be recycled into useful products. Importantly, HMPS is projected to save in the region of £5m over the life of the contract, well ahead of the 2012 target
  • Durham County Council set up a food procurement project to cut the costs, improve the food and cut the carbon footprint of their distribution. Instead of pre-deciding how to meet those objectives, they asked suppliers how to do it. As a result, food has improved, costs have been cut, local businesses got involved leading to around 12 000 fewer deliveries – that’s 12 000 van journeys saved. Reducing carbon emissions in a local area is the fifth most popular LAA indicator. LB Lewisham calculated that 70 per cent of its carbon emissions were produced by its supply chain;
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