What is it with Wirral Council and contracts?. We understand their procurement department has been having a bit of bother with a transport tender exercise held earlier this year and a bit like a taxi queue – it seems it was rank.
Council insiders tell us there has been a simmering dispute with 4 companies who have been going through hell because they were left out a tendering exercise to provide transport routes for Childrens Services.
Apparently due to a technical glitch on the electronic tendering system some essential documents failed to upload. Due North – the company responsible for the system on behalf of the council- maintain that there was no defect in the system which would explain why this happened. As there was no trigger to alert tenderers that information was missing from their bids , the first time that these 4 companies found this out was when they were told their tenders had “Gone West” and not Due North.
Wirral Council could have used their discretion under the Public Contract Regulations to request the incomplete and missing documents . They could have done this with a quick phone call. But- no . This is not how Wirral Council roll
However the result is that with 4 companies excluded from the bidding process it’s highly likely that the cost of the transport routes will have increased and consequently there are small numbers of children being taken to school in mini-buses instead of more appropriate taxi vehicles. What’s more we understand Wirral Council have already stated that they will use the option to extend the new contracts for another year even though in the interest of fairness they could just run the procurement exercise again next summer.
Further it is alleged that the company that got the majority of the minibus work have a prominent new recruit who was previously a council employee and whom had access to all the prices of the contracts for the past two years . This particular company share premises with another company who also did well out of the 2016 contracts in the absence of 4 companies from the bidding process.
Now we’re not suggesting untoward – but under the circumstances and with Wirral Council’s track record there are surely legitimate questions about systems , procedures and propriety that need to be answered.
We understand those questions are with the Local Government Ombudsman – so the meter is still running on this one.
Finally we have contacted someone who’s business has been affected by this fiasco and they told us : “I think it’s shocking that they have no concern about ratepayers money but I guess this is what happens when there is no consequence to their actions .They just can’t get it right it’s shocking, if this was a private company they’d all be sacked.”