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Contractors blast Agency over unawarded bids

CONTRACTORS this week hit back at the Highways Agency after it rejected bids for key framework contracts in the North of England as unsatisfactory.

The Agency said this week that it would not be awarding the contracts.

The framework contracts for Areas 13 and 14 were due to be let in May last year for all works between £500,000 and £5M.

Areas 13 and 14 cover northern England from north Lancashire across to North Yorkshire and up to the Scottish Border.

Last year the Agency shortlisted John Mowlem, Colas, RMC and Skanska to spread the work between them.

But it said proposals submitted by shortlisted bidders in May last year lacked clarity of pricing and transparency down the supply chain.

A source close to one of the shortlisted bidders this week criticised the Agency's procurement process.

'The bid process was rushed and if the Agency didn't get the right answers then maybe they didn't ask the right questions.'

Contractors are also understood to be unhappy at tight timescales imposed by the Agency right up to the 19 May bid deadlines.

Last minute demands for information also hampered efforts to formalise details of pain/gain partnering agreements with second tier suppliers.

The Highways Agency said it would hold a review meeting with the bidders.

'To overcome this lack of supply chain clarity we will be having feedback sessions with the unsuccessful bidders, ' said Highways Agency director of procurement Steve Rowsell.

'We will be looking at why this contract was not awarded, why there was a lack of essential information and how we can assist the local supply chain to develop.'

NCE understands that the consortium had received no feedback on its bids since May.

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