Thomas Armstrong in tender attack on majors

Grant Prior 13 years ago
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Thomas Armstrong is threatening to boycott apprentice courses at a Cumbrian college after missing out on tendering for a new £7m building on the campus.

Armstrong bosses are furious with the local council over how the tender race was handled for the contract at Lakes College in Lillyhall and have attacked the way European legislation is interpreted by councils.

They said local firms are losing out to major contractors who have whole teams dedicated to picking their way through complex pre-tender questionnaires filled with Euro rules.

Armstrong said the complicated forms meant it had lost the opportunity to tender for £15m-worth of work in recent months including the new construction skills campus at Lakes College.

Jonathan Tibbitts, construction director at Thomas Armstrong, told the Times and Star: “They are subjective and the questions they ask must fail local companies.

“We can’t, for instance, compete with a multi-national when asked about how carbon neutral we will be.

“Some of these companies have people hired to write the answers.”

Armstrong said it would stop its apprentices being trained at the Lillyhall campus in protest.

A county council spokesman said: “The procurement process is being done through an open tendering route where any interested companies have the opportunity to compete for the work.

“This route was taken to allow Cumbrian businesses the maximum opportunity to compete while complying with the European Union procurement legislation.

“Twenty-eight companies expressed an interest in the contract and seven have been shortlisted using the assessment criteria, which includes price and quality.”

The spokesman added: “Ideally, every shortlisted company would be Cumbrian, but it would be illegal for us to favour a local firm over another one which has submitted a more competitive application.

“Ultimately, the law states that contracts must be awarded to the most competitive bid – and that boils down to price and quality, not whether a business is local or not.”

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