It is no secret that the North East of England has been disproportionately impacted by the economic downturn and recession when compared with other regions.
There could hardly be a greater disparity than with circumstances in London. Talking at a recent event with professionals and contractors the observation on the London construction and property market was that, yes it is tough because there are a lot of businesses competing hard but that there is also a lot of good work around.
“Get in with a good Agent,” one friend told us, “and it can still be something of a licence to print money.”
Compare that with the construction market in that wild and beautiful part of England bisected by the Tees, the Wear and the Tyne. Devasted by the collapse of its economic bedrock, the coal and steel industries, the North East was least well placed to withstand the financial crisis and the subsequent years of downturn and recession.
So, you might think, the public sector on which the North East has been so heavily dependent for so long will be striving to be the Region’s saviour, harnessing the power of public procurement to drive opportunity and jobs to where they are most needed.
Think again – the open letter embedded in this piece on Bdaily tells a tale of exclusion and isolation as the impact of Government procurement policy (“fewer and larger Frameworks”) in favour of national might and muscle. This is not the whinge of some obscure minor contractor. This is a plea from the heart of three of the largest Northern contractors: Tolent, Surgo and Esh.
With a combined JV turnover of £250m they were still unable to qualify for the Northern Panel of the Contractor Framework for the Priority Schools programme.
This can’t be right and it can’t be a desired consequence of procurement regulation. The tools are becoming available to right this kind of inequity and the sooner “Most Economically Advantageous Tender” becomes a 3D concept rather than a cipher for lowest price, the better.