Today Suffolk County Council begins the process of finding its next long term Highways Services partner.
The council is looking for a partner to deliver key operational projects after the current contract ends on 30 September 2023.
As part of preparations up to this point, the council has worked with leading industry analysts to understand the different types of arrangements that other local authorities have in place, to look at which specialist providers are in the marketplace and to find out what aspects of contract agreement may work best for Suffolk based on the range of outcomes the council wants to achieve from any new contract process.
The council is looking to develop a contract that utilises a blended ‘hybrid’ approach, enabling the council to enter into one contract that covers the majority of Highways Service functions and two contracts with specialist providers for streetlighting and traffic signals (ITS). The council will be looking for the new contract to focus on delivering greater social value, utilising local skills and talent, giving young people the opportunity to work in the sector as well as building on the council’s commitment to carbon reduction and protecting the environment.
The whole contract development process will take just over two years to complete. Once the appropriate tender documents have been prepared outlining the council’s requirements, initial advertisements will go out in December 2021. Discussions will begin with any interested prospective contractors in early 2022. Following such a rigorous tendering process, the council hopes to be able to award its chosen contract in early 2023 with the new service provider beginning in October 2023.
The procurement process needs to begin now to provide enough time to go to the market to seek relevant specialist companies which may be interested in tendering for the contract which is worth in the region of £800m - £1 billion over a projected 20 year period.
Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Ipswich, Operational Highways and Flooding, Cllr Paul West said:
“This is the beginning of the process today towards finding the right partners to deliver aspects of Suffolk’s Highways Services beyond the end of the current contract in 2023. We want to get the best value for money for Suffolk taxpayers and ensure that the contractors we choose through the hybrid contract approach are the best fit for what we want to achieve and deliver.
“We have learnt a great deal from our existing contract arrangements and going forward I want to ensure this new contract enables more young people across Suffolk to access apprenticeships and relevant work experience opportunities through the Kick Start scheme. We want to find the right partner who shares our ambition and ideas to innovate in improving delivery of services, communicating with customers and sharing our commitment to reducing carbon use as part of the Climate Emergency.
“In preparing for this contract we have rightly spent time considering how other local authorities manage their Highways contracts and which process would be best for Suffolk as we look towards finding the right long term service delivery partner.”