Public sector procurement managers say the firms selected for the £300m engineering and professional services panel of the North West Construction Hub will be announced by the end of March – more than one year after the deadline for applications.
Anticipated by many consultants as an important revenue stream after the 2009 recession, the complex framework failed to materialise. When open days for companies were held in October 2010, the events were over-subscribed and more than 550 firms expressed an interest in bidding for a place on the contract roster. Bidders spent significant amounts of time and money compiling their applications but have nothing to show for their investment.
There were 78 lots in the original tender document published in September 2010 by Manchester City Council on behalf of the North West Improvement & Efficiency Partnership, a public sector procurement consortium. The deadline for expressions of interest was November 2010.
The Centre for Construction Innovation North West, funded by Salford University among others, is also involved as adviser to the North West Construction Hub. The framework was managed by the North West Development Agency before its abolition was announced. The handover from NWDA to Manchester and the CCI and subsequent review of the rules are understood to be partly behind the delay.
The long list of lots was divided by fee value, geography and discipline. There were bands for small, medium and large fees; up to £50,000, between £50,000 and £150,000 and over £150,000. The nine disciplines covered were project management, landscaping and art, architectural design, sustainability and environment, valuation and market analysis, civil and structural engineering, mechanical, electrical and building services, quantity surveying and building surveying.
However, a spokesman for Manchester City Council told Place that lots 32 to 42 for civil and structural engineering services have been withdrawn from the tender process and will be replaced by even more subdivided lots.
A note sent by the council to bidders read: "We have determined that the service needs across the civil and structural engineering spectrum would be better met by subdividing the discipline into a series of lots, each with a more refined scope of services. We are currently preparing a restructured framework for the Civil/Structural Engineering discipline; the overall evaluation methodology, however, will remain the same. The other disciplines within this tender exercise remain unchanged."
So far the construction hub has only appointed the panel of main contractors .
No one from the CCI NW was available for comment.