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Bucks takes to speed dating

County council gives contractors challenge for best ideas on spending £40 million

A local authority is asking contractors to take the lead on how taxpayers’ money is spent.

Buckinghamshire County Council has shortlisted seven teams and told them to come up with their best ideas on how to deliver £40 million worth of services, ranging from transport to property.

Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Amey and Accord plus three joint ventures of Halcrow/Dolas, Fitzpatrick/Hyder and Jacobs/Ringway are taking part.

The council has already invited contractors to speak to its departments in a speed-dating-style set-up as part of the competitive dialogue phase of the procurement process.

Representatives from highways planning and maintenance, planning and environment, property services and fire and rescue were given 20 minutes to discuss their requirements with each contractor.

One bidder said: “What I particularly liked about this competitive dialogue is that we get to sit down face to face with those delivering the service. That way you hopefully get a contract that works on the strengths of both parties.”

Preliminary bids are now being prepared. The council will evaluate these later this month to eliminate two or three candidates.

Best and final offers are scheduled for July with a view to awarding the contract in the autumn, followed with a start on works in April next year. The contract will run for an initial period of eight years, with options to extend by up to another seven years.

Jobs covered under the brief include highways and bridges improvement and maintenance works, capital works, term maintenance and professional consultancy support.

Other public sector bodies, including four district councils, Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and Buckinghamshire Primary Care Trust, will be able to join at any time.

The idea for the strategy came from soft market tests done by the council. It found that combining a range of services that are currently provided by private sector companies under separate contracts could lead to cost savings.