The benefits of Project Amber, the successful highways framework initiative started by Blackpool Council and supported by the Local Councils Roads Improvement Group (LCRIG), can now be read about it a new published document.
“Learn about the success of the Project Amber trial which has led to the creation of the Project Amber Framework contract developed by Blackpool Council. This published document showcases what can be achieved by local authorities working in partnership with the supply chain to deliver a safe and sustainable road network for their citizens,” says LCRIG.
“Right now, more than ever, our collective industry needs to demonstrate an extremely high level of agility, innovation and collaboration, it adds. Like all local highway authorities, Blackpool is no different. Budget cuts in the face of increased demand and rising costs whilst public expectations grow for a more well maintained network. Amongst all of these pressures we have to deliver on tougher environmental targets and inject social value into all we do. Therefore, it might be obvious to all of us that ‘we can’t just carry on doing what we have always done’.
“We need to develop new ways of working with our world class supply chains to deliver new value or accept defeat and continue to invest time and energy into explaining why our backlog is growing and the
network condition worsening.”
This July Blackpool Council embarked on a procurement of a framework that is unique. It is based on a 100% quality assessment and is very attractive to SMEs due to its focus on small pavement works with individual works orders from £5k to £150k. The expectation is that 12 -16 organisations will be appointed to the 4 year deal and they will be expected to work together to work in collaboration with the Council and one another to determine the most effective treatments to extend the life of the network.
Once the suppliers are appointed Blackpool will have the option of making a direct award to a single contractor, providing the cost are acceptable and built up in accordance with their tender or seek prices from a number of the suppliers via a mini competition.
As a key member of LCRIG Blackpool is making the framework available to all LCRIG members such that others can draw down from the selected suppliers to trial and test innovative solutions in their own areas. Alternatively Blackpool is willing to ‘gift’ the procurement and contract documents to any member so they can engage their own local supply chains using the same mechanisms, with minor modifications for local circumstances. The only expectation is that any other framework procured via this route should be made available to members of LCRIG.
There has already been a great deal of interest so if other councils do adopt this approach and procure similar frameworks it could potentially create something of a national community of innovative SMEs delivering solutions that are faster, cheaper and better. A collaboration of this nature and scale has never been seen before in the UK so wouldn’t it be nice for local highway authorities to be leading the way at a pan-industry level. What would be even nicer would be for LCRIG to receive this recognition.