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Amey wins £200m Area 6 asset support contract

Updated: Amey has won the Highways Agency’s delayed £200m Area 6 asset support contract which will now start in April, seven months later than previously planned.

Construction News revealed in March that the contract award was set for a delay after problems with the tender process.

Bidders were told that there had been something either “unsuitable or irregular” about each of their tenders before the delay, believed to involve output pricing issues, which have caused controversy among contractors.

ASCs are replacing the existing managing agent contractor contracts and the specifications are more output-based than the MACs.

Highways Agency chief executive Graham Dalton defended the contracts last month in an interview with Construction News, when he said the costs of maintaining and renewing the network needed to be lowered.

Mr Dalton said: “Our market is cutthroat. We haven’t asked for it, we haven’t expressly promoted it, but in 2009 on one tranche of maintenance contracts bids we had, half of them failed to reach quality thresolds. There was enough work around that the bid teams were not trying hard enough.”

“In 2012 none of them failed to meet the quality threshold. Far more effort had gone into bidding and thinking up innovative ways of delivering and where the problem has come is [there have been] far more ways of some to try and find pricing angles that are perverse.”

The agency’s chief executive added that certain issues had led to some contracts that “just wouldn’t work”.

“What we have had is some bidding behaviour where instead of looking at innovative ways of delivering more efficiently they have looked at ways of loading pricing to second-guess our assessment model, to come up with the most competitive bid.”

Mr Dalton said the agency would not let contracts to “someone who doesn’t comply with instructions”.

Amey’s contract covers improvements and maintenance of motorways and major A roads in the East of England.

It is valued at between £30m and £40m per annum and will go live from 1 April 2014.

Atkins/Skanska, Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald and a Carillion/WSP joint venture have missed out on the deal.

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