Three sets of major collaborative procurement schemes have been developed in highways departments across the country, with help from the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP), Transport Network can reveal.
These include joint working between Devon, Somerset and Plymouth Councils as well as Warwickshire, Solihull and Coventry councils.
Following closer relationships through the South West Highways Alliance, Devon, Somerset and Plymouth hope to launch a joint OJUE notice for highways maintenance work in early October.
A competitive negotiation process will follow this, with further procurement procedures starting around February next year. The contract is expected to be awarded autumn 2016 and be launched in April 2017.
The size of the total work is daunting covering 22,000km of road, 5,380 bridges and 12,000km of cycleways. Under current maintenance contracts the authorities spend £66m annually between them, with this contract expected to last seven years with the potential to extend up to 10 years.
However the tender will work with one lot per authority so in theory each authority could end up with a different contractor, with the HMEP standard procurement tool at its heart.
Speaking on behalf of the three authorities Mike O’Dowd-Jones strategic commission manager for highways and transport at Somerset CC, told Surveyor: It gives us the opportunity to assess one supplier for each authority. We have particular collaborative aims we want to discuss with the market. We want a widespread approach to take advantage of the negotiations.
‘We are looking to become more integrated over the course of the contract and are looking to the supplier to help with that whether that is one supplier or three.’
The councils are looking to save tens of thousands of pounds through the procurement process alone, with Mr O’Dowd-Jones estimating typical procurement for such contracts would be around £150,000-£200,000 for each authority. Under this system that expense would be shared.
Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull councils are at the invitation to tender stage with a similar seven-year contract that could be extended to ten years.
The contract was last let in 2015 to Balfour Beatty for £25m per annum.
Bryn Patefield, contract and policy manager at Warwickshire revealed that the councils estimate procurement cost savings of around 30% on the deal, which covers 5,000 miles of highways.
‘The market has changed since last we tendered for this contract. In 2010 it was roughly 70-30 price to quality, now it is more like 60-40,’ he said.
He added that a strategic board to support the tender, with portfolio holder and member representation had helped keep political engagement, while officers were allowed to freedom to oversee the works contract.
A spokeswoman for North Somerset Council also revealed it was 'working closely with Bath and North East Somerset to explore the possibility of a joint highways procurement contract, in line with HMEP best practice’.
Matthew Lugg Mouchel Consulting part of the Kier Group and HMEP Advocate, said: 'There is increasing momentum for collaborative working. Individual councils, particularly small unitaries procuring on their own, are going to struggle to get a good deal.'
Surveyor's Highway Management conference will take place on September 23rd and 24th in Manchester. To register go to: www.highway.surveyorevents.com