Statement: Response to inquiries about the Fenwick Estate development management contract
Lambeth Council’s interim chief executive Andrew Travers has provided an official response to the “People’s Audit”, following concerns raised by the group over the procurement of contractors to help manage the redevelopment of one of the council’s housing estates.
The “People’s Audit” have criticised the council over the procurement process for the project, pointing out there were cheaper options for the work as “Development Management Team” on the Fenwick Estate. However Mr Travers has explained that simply choosing the lowest bid isn’t necessarily the best option – and that quality is key.
He has reassured the “People’s Audit” that the tendering process and the decision, in May last year, were in line with the council’s procurement strategy. The strategy stated that decisions on contract awards for the Fenwick regeneration should be based mainly on quality, rather than the lowest price, as “the quality of the team is paramount”.
The original contract decision was challenged in the High Court by another tenderer, although this challenge was subsequently discontinued following an agreement being reached in relation to legal costs. Lambeth has also terminated the procurement, and not confirmed the provisional award of the contract to Mace Ltd.
In a point-by-point response to the “People’s Audit’s” concerns, Mr Travers said the tendering process was complex and much of the detail was confidential.
Mr Travers wrote: “A public contracting authority has to determine which tender will be the most economically advantageous. It is therefore not always the case that a lower priced bid – even one which on the face of it is much lower – is necessarily the most economically advantageous.”
The full letter can be viewed here.
UPDATE: A follow-up letter from Mr Travers, in response to a second letter from Mr Morrow, can be viewed here.