Connaught-hit Norwich to put housing repairs with one firm

Aaron Morby 13 years ago

Norwich City Council is once again planning to put all its responsive repairs work in the hands of one contractor.

Local firms have slammed the council for failing to learn any lessons after being left in the lurch when Connaught collapsed.

The job, covering 18,500 properties, will initially go out as a five-year framework and is worth about £9m each year.

Council procurement chiefs estimate this will rise to £90m if the deal is extended for a further 5 years, as hoped.

One local contractor, who did not wish to be named, told the Enquirer: “It seems councils never learn. It is completely ignoring its disastrous experience with Connaught and putting all its eggs in one basket again.

“The real stick in the eye for local firms is that many specialists stepped in to help Norwich when it didn’t know where to turn.”

He added: “I suppose they are doing anything they can to cut spending, but we know what happens in the long term.”

A spokesman for Norwich dismissed the claim that it is putting all its work with one contractor again.

Next month the council aims to start procurement of its planned maintenance programme, which is worth around £7.5m each year.

Details have yet to be confirmed but the council is understood to be considering letting this programme of works with several contractors.

A notice is due to appear in the Official Journal of the European Union within the next four weeks.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: “Our procurement strategy is to split the work into smaller packages as far as is practical.

“This will mean we go to the market more often, where possible, and get better value for money.

“Splitting up the contracts also reduces the risk posed to the council by one main contractor if that company were to experience financial difficulties completely beyond its control – as was the case with Connaught.”

At the time of the Connaught collapse, the council hoped it would find a buyer for the business, which included around 70% of the council’s former maintenance team.

Although it had detailed negotiations with one firm, a deal was never struck because of concerns about possible legal challenges if the work was transferred to a contractor.

Interested firms have until 8 July to prequalify for the responsive repairs contract. Further details from Robin Hare, tel 01603212412 or by emailing:  [email protected]

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