Agenda item - Member Involvement
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- Meeting of City Environment, South Downs & The Sea Committee, Tuesday, 20th June, 2023 4.00pm (Item 6.)
To consider the following matters raised by Members:
(a) Petitions: To receive any petitions;
(b) Written Questions: To consider any written questions;
1) Councillor Fishleigh- Public Toilet Contractor
(c) Letters: To consider any letters;
(d) Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion referred from Full Council or submitted directly to the Committee.
(B) Written questions
1) Public Toilet Contractor
6.1 Councillor Fishleigh read the following question:
“What penalty clauses are in the contract between BHCC and the company appointed to refurbish various toilet blocks in the city including on Saltdean undercliff, will these be applied and will you ensure that this company is never given a BHCC contract again and that the procurement departments of neighbouring authorities are made aware of BHCC’s unsatisfactory experience?”
6.2 The Chair provided the following reply:
“I share your frustration around delays to the reopening of public toilets. As you are no doubt aware, getting these vital facilities reopened is a top priority for us as an incoming administration.
We are very pleased that 23 of our city’s toilets are now open and, as you heard in my opening remarks, the newly refurbished facilities are now far more accessible, inclusive and pleasant to use.
I’d also like to add that we have received positive feedback about the quality of the refurbishments.
The council has conducted a lessons-learned exercise with the contractor and has established that both parties were optimistic about what could be delivered in the time frame. The nature of the buildings and the current constraints in the construction supply and labour markets have also played a part. The buildings the toilets are housed in are very old and have been minimally maintained and not refurbished for many years. For example, the Daltons public toilets which are housed under the promenade were built in the 19th century and there were many infrastructure issues that became apparent as the buildings were stripped for renovation.
Due to this, Extensions of Time were granted which delayed the programme. The learning from all of this will enable us to be more realistic in the future.
The decision about whether to award future contracts will be made on a case-by-case basis, with a test of confidence applied to the contractor’s performance on rectifying defects and snagging under the current contract, as well as their progress on other projects they currently have on site for the council.
The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 apply to higher value construction contracts and allow contracting authorities to exclude a contractor from a procurement only where there have been significant or persistent deficiencies in the performance of a substantive requirement under a prior public contract which led to early termination of that prior contract, damages or other comparable sanctions.
Penalty clauses are not permitted in contracts. The contractor can be required to pay damages to cover the Councils losses but cannot be claimed in this case as the majority of the delays were beyond the contractor’s control.
The proposed next phase for the toilet refurbishment programme will be presented to committee in the early autumn and a new procurement exercise will commence for phase 2”.
6.3 Councillor Fishleigh asked the following supplementary question:
“Will you include the contract for the toilet in your financial review please?”
6.4 The Chair provided the following reply:
“That will be something that is looked at”.