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Amey to put £2bn Sheffield roads PFI work online for SMEs

Subcontracting work for a £2 billion PFI highways deal in Sheffield will be thrown open to SMEs through a fledgling government online portal.

Sheffield City Council last week announced Amey as preferred bidder ahead of a joint bid from Carillion and Mouchel for the 25-year contract to refurbish roads, pavements and street scenes.

The major refurbishment private finance initiative deal - covering everything from highways, bridges, walls, footways and trees - had to pass a government business case test. Work is scheduled to start in mid-August.

Amey chief executive Mel Ewell and council chief executive John Mothersole told CN the firm will be using the online portal Contracts Finder to appoint subcontractors.

The site was launched by the government last year to boost the amount of work going to SMEs.

Amey and Balfour Beatty were among nine companies to sign up to publish their public sector subcontracting opportunities on the portal, rather than using existing supply chains.

Some contractor sources have previously hit out at what they saw as “burdensome” moves by the Cabinet Office to interfere with supply chains after years of rationalisation.

But Mr Ewell said: “It is a developing programme, we are committed to it, there’s work to get fully bedded in, but that’s the commitment we have made.

“It develops best practice, making sure subcontractors and SMEs get access to these opportunities, making sure we can get visibility for that system and that we have the right quality of subcontractors in place - all of these things come to the fore.”

Mr Ewell said his firm - which had a dedicated team of six staff working on the Sheffield bid - will select suppliers to support local economies “wherever we can”.

The Sheffield contract - which includes a £1.2bn payment via the government and the rest via the council - will create up to 200 jobs and see 500 council staff transferred to Amey, he added.

Mr Mothersole said the council will act as a “dating agent” to enable local private and third sector subcontractors to win work. A number of supplier days will take place before the end of June.


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