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Mon June 21 2021

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MEP calls for level playing field for local firms

15 Aug 13 Local construction firms deserve a level playing field when bidding for government contracts, according to Fiona Hall MEP.

Fiona Hall and Angelika Schneider with Ian Walker, John Wood and Brian Manning
Fiona Hall and Angelika Schneider with Ian Walker, John Wood and Brian Manning

Three construction firms in the North East - Tolent, Surgo and the Esh Group - recently joined forces to lobby the government for reform in the way building contracts are awarded, warning that all but the largest companies found it impossible to qualify for millions of pounds of publicly funded work.

The Lib Dem Euro MP has already written to the Cabinet Office to express her concerns and this week met the company bosses leading the campaign - to discuss the impact the rules are having on the region's building industry.

She said: "Clearly, the current strategy of using national procurement frameworks is stacked in favour of the very large national construction firms. The result is that small and medium businesses, vital to the North East economy, are being unfairly squeezed.

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"There is real concern that the high turnover requirement is a barrier to regional companies. And also that the framework approach does not necessarily produce good value for taxpayers in terms of the cost of individual projects.

"The government needs to look again at the qualifying criteria it has set to ensure experienced, highly-regarded regional firms are not excluded from the process. All these companies are asking for is a level playing field."

Esh Group's chairman Brian Manning said: "This is not just an issue for our three businesses but it's having a major impact on workload for all medium-sized construction companies across the country. We are making a stand on this and will challenge frameworks that aggregate construction contracts, insist on turnover criteria and claim best value for taxpayers on the basis of a beauty competition that has little bearing on outcomes."

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