The Problem With Big Contracts
There are only a few bigger contracts than the one Hampshire County Council negotiates for highway maintenance work.
With over 5000 miles of road to look after and an annual spend in the region of £85 million, you can imagine the value such contracts have to the companies bidding for the work.
A while back, the Tories decided to “save” money by awarding the contract to one supplier…. but things didn’t work well.
The quality of the work was often poor.
It looked to me that the contractor was taking advantage of the fact that it had a long term contract, with no competition to keep them on their toes.
So, when the big contract finally did draw to a close, unsurprisingly, the County Council appointed a new contractor to take over.
Unfortunately, this too has resulted in problems.
I was talking to a Senior County Councillor today.
He said that HCC had been led to believe that at least 60% of the former contractors workforce were expected to transfer over to the new contractor.
Sadly, this hasn’t happened.
Only about 40% did so, leaving a huge shortage of workers to undertake the highway work.
Apparently, they are finding it difficult to recruit and train staff.
Since the country voted for Brexit, the number of migrant workers has dropped by over 40%.
This explains why a lot of planned projects have been put on hold and delayed and I think adds weight to the theory that you don’t always save money by putting “all your eggs in one basket” when it comes to awarding contracts.
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Conservative election literature over the last 20 years has regularly featured an item that suggests that the Liberal Democrats would “impose” wheelie bins if we got back into power.