Highways industry boost for SMEs

Highways England has signalled a boost for small and medium sized enterprises interested in working in the highways sector. SMEs have been invited to register interest for work through the Area 7 'asset led delivery model' which is being developed for delivery of maintenance and capital improvements to highways and bridges in the East Midlands.

The asset delivery model is being introduced in Area 7 as a departure from the HE's usual approach of awarding a single contract for term maintenance either through managing agent contracts (MAC) or asset support contracts (ASC). The HE's ASC contracts have been besieged with difficulties and delays to procurement processes since being introduced five years ago to replace MAC contracts. Area 7 is the first to adopt the new asset delivery model, which is also being introduced to four further HE contracts for Areas 1, 4, 13 and 14 as they approach renewal.

Through the new approach, the HE is taking maintenance decisions and capital project planning back in house. Four sets of contracts will be let for work to be carried out in Area 7 starting from this summer. These contracts will provide for routine maintenance and incident response; design services; construction works through 14 different lots including general civil engineering, surfacing and traffic management; plus specialist services such as inspections, materials testing and weather forecasting.

The invite to register interest relates to the fourth category for specialist work. The HE's executive director for commercial and procurement David Poole, said: “We are tasked with delivering the largest roads investment programme in a generation and for us to deliver on such a scale at the same time as maintaining the strategic road network, we have to work in a flexible, responsive and efficient way.

“This new procurement approach in the East Midlands is representative of Highways England’s commitment to really changing the way we deliver maintenance and investment over the next five years.”

Interested suppliers are being invited to register an interest with Highways England via the Highways England e-sourcing portal so they can be alerted when packages of work become available.

The HE has also announced it will hold a briefing day for SMEs on 23 February 2016, where an overview will be given of the proposed approach to procuring technical surveys and testing.