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Mace calls for HS2 tender process rerun

Mace has called for a rerun of the procurement for High Speed 2’s £170m phase 2b development partner contract after preferred supplier CH2M withdrew from the role.  

Mace said it had “never seen a procurement process” like the one carried out for the deal, and insisted “the only sensible thing” was to begin the competition again. 

The firm bid unsuccessfully for the role - which will include helping the client body push through the hybrid bill for the second phase of the line, from Crewe to Manchester, and Birmingham to Leeds - but has not ruled out launching a legal challenge.

It comes as it emerged that HS2’s director general, David Prout, is quitting to take up a role with Oxford University as its pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources. 

US giant CH2M yesterday confirmed it would pull out from the phase 2b development partner contract less than two months after being chosen to carry out the work

Bechtel has been tipped to take over the role, with HS2 confirming that the company - which also lost out to CH2M in the initial bid process - has been invited in for discussions. 

A Mace spokesman said: “It’s important to note that conflicts of interest was only ever one element of our concerns. 

“With so many questions being asked by the public and parliament, the only sensible thing to do now is to look at the whole tender process again. 

“In our 26-year history, working on some of the UK’s most iconic projects, we have never brought a case to the High Court or seen a procurement process run like this. We continue to closely review our next steps with our legal team and don’t rule anything out.”

CH2M was confirmed as the preferred bidder for the deal last month but the official contract signing, initially expected to take place on 24 February, was delayed so HS2 could address concerns raised by failed bidder Mace over a potential conflict of interest.

Construction News last week revealed that HS2 was understood to be looking into the part played by former HS2 chief of staff Christopher Reynolds in the US engineering giant’s tender for the deal. Mr Reynolds appears to have been appointed as a programme director at CH2M this month. 

It is not known by Construction News as to whether Mr Reynolds played any part in any CH2M tender process for HS2 work.

CH2M said yesterday the decision to withdraw from the contract had been taken due to the protracted delays and speculation risking further delays to the project.

Mace is now set for showdown talks with HS2 officials tomorrow.

The Mace spokesman added: “After many weeks of waiting, we look forward to seeing HS2 tomorrow to finally hear their answers to our numerous questions about how the entire procurement process has been conducted.”

HS2 has previously said that the procurement for the phase 2b deal was the most robust it had carried out and included CH2M enforcing a “Chinese Wall” between its bid team and those already working for HS2.

In a statement yesterday, HS2 said it welcomed CH2M’s decision to pull out of the deal.

HS2 has been contacted for comment on Mace’s calls for a rerun.


Readers' comments (1)

  • The plot thickens. Your reports so far that highlight the web of potential conflicts of interests certainly caused raised eyebrows, and it seemed inevitable that CH2M would lose the contract one way or another. Are you able to report more fully regarding Mace's other concerns?

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