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Tuesday, 23 January, 2001, 18:41 GMT
Private firms win roads contracts
road works
Private firms will carry out road maintenance
The Scottish Executive has announced that private firms will take over the maintenance of Scotland's trunk roads from local authorities.

Transport Minister Sarah Boyack confirmed on Tuesday that AMEY and Bear Scotland Ltd had been awarded five-year contracts worth 350m.

She said the private firms had submitted tenders which offered "maximum value" to taxpayers.

But Ms Boyack conceded that the loss of work for councils could result in job losses.

The contracts will only be awarded after an independent review of the tendering process.

Legal challenge

The review, which will be carried out by Halcrows and PriceWaterhouse Coopers, comes after a consortium of Scotland's local authorities failed in two legal challenges to overturn the result of the tendering process.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities wrote to First Minister Henry McLeish on Monday to complain about the value and fairness of the tendering process.

Andy Kerr
Andy Kerr: "skewed process"
This followed criticism last week by opposition parties and Labour's transport committee convener Andy Kerr, that the process was skewed in favour of the private sector.

Ms Boyack said the tendering process was run fairly and in accordance with UK and European law.

"We expected local authorities to draw on their economy of scale strengths to present highly competitive bids.

"Equally, the growing experience of the private sector was thought likely to bring stronger bids from that quarter than in the past.

"In the event, the private sector tenders offered very substantial savings over the prices submitted by the local authorities, a difference that the executive, as guardians of taxpayers' money, cannot ignore.

'New arrangements'

"I fully understand that the competition result will be disappointing to local authorities.

"I would stress, however, that councils can still tender for repair contracts and sub-contract work which are expected to be substantial across the network," she said.

The minister added that the new arrangements would mean reorganising the way maintenance services are delivered and that redundancies in local authorities could not be ruled out.

"As the experience of contract changes in England proves, a large number of council employees will be required to work for the new contractors," she said.

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See also:

27 Dec 00 | Scotland
Cash for 'road to rail' switch
20 Dec 00 | Scotland
Green light for road charge bill
07 Oct 00 | Scotland
Councils make roads cash call
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