The re-tendering of one of Shropshire Council’s highways consultancy contract has been put off by a year due to the pandemic.
The contract is currently held by WSP had been due to end next April, but a new one-year deal will be offered to the company to give the council time to draw up a longer-term arrangement.
A report presented to the authority’s cabinet said the current contract, which was awarded in 2015, needs to be re-designed to better reflect the council’s current requirements, reports the Border Counties Advertizer.
The contract covers work such as highways project design and helping to put together grant bids for major schemes.
Speaking at a meeting of the authority’s cabinet, councillor Dean Carroll, portfolio holder for assets, said: “Members will be aware that the WSP contract is coming up for renewal next year.
“We have taken a degree of time, and we continue to take a degree of time, to make sure that we are getting best value for that contract. As a result of that we want to do a piece of redefined work.
“But in order to ensure that we still have access to the design and consultation services that WSP provides, we are seeking a 12-month extension to allow us to remodel what that contract may look like in future.”
There will however be some changes under the interim contract – with two previously outsourced elements to be brought back in-house next year in a move the council says will help it have better oversight over public-facing services.
Councillor Carroll said: “We have taken on board comments that have been made by members and by the public and by the parish and town councils, and our own performance monitoring of how the contract is working.
“That is why we are looking to withdraw from the initial 12-month contract the highways development control function and the land drainage function, and bring them back in-house.
“We recognise there is a need for greater control, oversight and input into those functions and we don’t want to wait the extra 12 months while we redesign the contract.”
Cabinet unanimously resolved to offer WSP a new one-year contract, with the two stated elements removed, and for the council to work on drawing up a new highways consultancy contract.
The new contract will be put out to tender next year and will come into effect from 2023.