Carrick-on-Suir Town Council has called on the Government to change the rules for tendering for the Ballylynch Regeneration Scheme to enable the works to resume more quickly and to give local firms the opportunity to tender to finish the project that has stalled since the original contractor went into receivership last month.
A letter from the Council has been sent to the Department of Finance requesting that the second building firm in line for the original €2m contract to regenerate the Mountain View area of Ballylynch be immediately offered the job to complete the renovations rather than embarking on a new tendering process that will take between three to four months.
If this is not possible, the letter has also requested that the new tendering process be open to local contractors with a good track record with Carrick-on-Suir Town Council. Town Clerk Michael O’Brien has sent the letter in response to calls for these reforms from councillors at the Town Council’s May meeting. However, Mr O’Brien insisted the Department wouldn’t consider the councillors requests.
The calls from Cllr Kieran Bourke and Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan were made during a discussion on the future of the Ballylynch Regeneration Scheme in the wake of Galway based contractor Atlantic Developments going into receivership. The meeting heard that emergency works to make safe the unfinished building sites in Mountain View will begin in the next few weeks and it’s hoped to appoint a new contractor to finish the work in September.
A motion tabled by Cllr Bourke calling on the Council to seek permission to change the tendering procedure in relation to finishing the Mountain View regeneration and to allow contractors with a good track record with the Council to tender for the project was passed at the meeting.
Cllr Bourke, who is a builder by trade, said the Government’s procurement guidelines should be “torn up” and the remainder of the contract offered to the second or third ranked building firm in the original tendering process so work could recommence on the scheme as soon as possible.
He said it would not be “rocket science” for the works already done to be subtracted from the bill of quantities for the contract and assign the remainder to the new contractor.
“Tell them to drink a few bottles of cop-on and not have people suffering, not just in this town but in five or six other towns around the country,” he told the Town Clerk to relay to the Department of Finance when informed that according to the Government’s procurement guidelines and legislation a new tendering process would have to be embarked upon to appoint another firm to finish the renovations.
Cllr Bourke said local building contractors, excluding himself for conflict of interest reasons, should be allowed tender to complete the project. He complained that guidelines for tendering for the original Ballylynch Regeneration Scheme contract effectively excluded all local contractors from submitting a tender because only companies with a turnover of more than €5m were allowed to tender.
“I don’t know anyone who would have that turnover in the last four to five years. That would just blow local contractors out of the water. I know in other places they are two a penny but even those are a dying breed,” he said.
Fine Gael Cllr Margaret Croke told the meeting the second placed contractor in the orginal tendering process was willing to go in a finish the Ballylynch work and was prepared to hire local people to work on the scheme.
Cllr Cooney-Sheehan said she was extremely disappointed the Council would have to put the project out to tender again because it meant a delay of another four months.
This meant missing the summer months and they would be only resuming work going into the winter months.
Mr O’Brien said he would write to the Department of Finance with the councillors requests but noted that he felt it would be time taken away from doing something else more worthwhile as he knew what the Department’s response would be. “They are not going to change the procurement guideliness based on a letter from Carrick-on-Suir Town Council,” he pointed out.
He reiterated that the Council had to abide by the Government and EU’s procurement guidelines and legislation when tendering for projects and if this didn’t happen the Council would be exposed to possible legal action from companies that weren’t given the opportunity to tender.
In relation to the €5m turnover threshold that excluded local companies from tendering for the original contract, Mr O’Brien explained that there was a specific formula for calculating this based on a multiple of the contract price.
He said any local firms that met the qualifying criteria to tender would be welcome to apply for the contract to finish the scheme. He pointed out that there was nothing stopping a consortium of local firms coming together to submit a tender.