The decision to move away from outsourcing asset support contracts in certain regions and managing the work itself opens up new opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), Highways England purchasing managers believe.
It decided last year to return to a more traditional procurement model for Area 7, the East Midlands, taking direct responsibility for managing its contractors and making its own decisions on maintenance needs.
At the end of 2015 it decided to take this approach to four additional areas: Cornwall and Devon (Area 1); Somerset, Avon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire (Area 2); Cumbria and parts of Lancashire (Area 13); Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Durham and North Yorkshire (Area 14).
While SMEs might have a role as subcontractors for Highways England’s management contractors, in these areas they will be working directly for the client, for example providing surveys on drainage, topography and trees, as well as surveys on road surface condition and material testing.
And in the East Midlands, the search for just such contractors is officially under way.
Highways England is hold a briefing day for SMEs on 23rd February 2016, to provide an overview of the proposed approach to procuring technical surveys and testing, and an opportunity to ask questions about the process.
To register an interest in the briefing day, or for further details, email Area7ProcurementEnquiries@highwaysengland.co.uk
Procurement director David Poole said: “We are tasked with delivering the largest roads investment programme in a generation and for us to deliver on such a scale at the same time as maintaining the strategic road network, we have to work in a flexible, responsive and efficient way.
“This new procurement approach in the East Midlands is representative of Highways England’s commitment to really changing the way we deliver maintenance and investment over the next five years.”