Bank Tube Station upgrade awarded to non-UK contractor. Why do we do this to ourselves??

Having just posted about the new £60m Thames Water automation systems Framework Agreement it is disheartening to hear of yet another public infrastructure procurement ending in the export of jobs and money out of the UK.

TfL has selected the Spanish Contractor, Dragadas, to deliver the project. Before we get going, we should make it clear to our Iberian readers that we have nothing against Dragadas, nor against Spain – our concern is with a wider issue.

In this context we are reminded of a recent post we read on The Staggers, The New Statesman’s political blog (, which posed, in rather bellicose terms, the question why the UK keeps operating its public procurement procedures to award contracts to bidders from other EU states whilst others – it is claimed – always appear to be able to select, perfectly fairly, domestic suppliers?

You may or may not agree with the underlying premise, but there is certainly a widely held perception that the UK adheres rigidly to the rules (often to its own disadvantage) whilst other Member States are rather more “pragmatic”, shall we say.

Out and out protectionism is anathema to a common market and offends all principles of procurement (at least at state level). However, in these days of the increasing desire to use public procurement to achieve local/domestic economic, as well as other, objectives is it time for the authority’s discretion within the evaluation, scoring and award processes to be re-calibrated?

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