The two companies battling to carry out Birmingham City Council’s £2.2 billion highways private finance initiative are facing yet another agonising wait before discovering which one of them has won the lucrative contract.
Cabinet members rubber-stamped an evaluation process yesterday and decided, in a private session, to recommend the better bid.
But a decision will have to be taken by the Treasury, and is unlikely to be announced for another week at least.
Of the five consortia that entered the race to win the highways contract, only two were in the frame at the end.
They are Amey and Birmingham Street Services, a consortium of Ringway, WSP, John Laing Investments and Vinci Concessions.
The successful bidders will take responsibility for repairing and maintaining in a 25-year period all roads and pavements in Birmingham – 1,500 miles of highway and 94,000 street lights and traffic signals.
The contract will be front-loaded, with record amounts of investment being ploughed into improved roads and new street lights in the first seven years.
When government funding is taken into account, the total value of the PFI is about £2.2 billion – some £1 billion more than the council estimates it could have spent on the roads over the 25-year period. The council began preparing its PFI bid in 2003, and it has taken six years to get the largest contract of its kind to the finishing post. Cabinet transportation member Len Gregory said: “This is one of the last stages in a long journey. We have almost completed the process. We have worked robustly and diligently to get to where we are.”
Spokesmen for Amey and Birmingham Street Services said they were waiting to hear from the council and had no idea which of them would be successful.
Earlier this year Amey announced its intention to open a 70,000 sq ft International Design Hub in the city.
The project, which was announced at the Marche International des Professionnels d’Immobilier property show in Cannes, is set to pull together 250 staff currently located in the city into one location and create up to 500 jobs in the next two to three years.
Amey employs about 1,400 people across the Midlands, including 700 in Birmingham. In 2006, the company strengthened its presence in Birmingham by acquiring a city-based engineering consultancy, which has designed many national projects, including the iconic Spaghetti Junction.
The company hopes to establish the Design Hub to consolidate its existing consultancy team with 250 designers, plus 500 professional design engineers.
New jobs will be created as part of Amey’s contract as the Managing Agent Contractor (MAC) for the Highways Agency’s Area 9 scheme. The contract, worth up to £275million, started on July 1 and will see the company manage and maintain more than 650 miles of roads and motorways across the Midlands.