Procurement Strategy Agreed for Swansea Central Phase One

Procurement Strategy Agreed for Swansea Central Phase One

Swansea Council has today named the principal contractor for Phase One of the £120million Swansea Central development.  Buckingham Group Contracting will be leading the project to build the digital arena, coastal park, homes, shops and restaurants, both sides of Oystermouth Road, near the LC2.

Buckingham Group is a Buckinghamshire-based firm with regional offices across England, and they have been appointed on the basis of their “outstanding record in successfully delivering major high-profile schemes”.

The announcement comes in the context of many 4theRegion members and others arguing the case for more in-region procurement relating to major projects in the City Deal, and everyone is keen to see a genuine focus on ensuring that the supply chain creates plenty of opportunities for regional firms.

Rob Stewart, leader of Swansea Council, says:

“We have agreed a procurement strategy with Buckingham, and we are working with Construction Futures Wales to run the first Meet the Buyer event in early March.  We have written into the contract requirements for the contractor to invite tenders from suitable local businesses.  And we will be holding them accountable.  Should a suitable local business not win a tender over a business further away, we will require justification for that decision.  Obviously we cannot preclude that happening, but Buckingham are well aware of our aspirations.”

Observers will be paying close attention to how this agreement plays out.  The importance of proactively ensuring in-region procurement can not be overstated, if we are to realise the long term economic uplift from major capital investment projects in the region.  

At 4theRegion, we know some of our members have been frustrated in the past by the appointment of external consultants and contractors, and we are looking to City Deal leaders to do everything they can, within procurement rules – including challenging those rules where appropriate – to ensure regional businesses and communities benefit from spending on major works.  

There have been some good examples – including Swansea Council’s schools building programme.  And there is no doubt that the will is there at a city and a regional level.  Welsh Government and Business Wales have been working closely on the issue of procurement for some time, including engagement with Transport for Wales, which has seen the appointment of a Supplier Champion and proactive engagement with SMEs. 

We know that the City Deal regional office is drafting a set of Procurement Principles for upcoming projects, including looking at Project Bank Accounts to ensure smaller suppliers get paid on time.  In practice, how might we hold contractors accountable to the regional supply chain, and are there any “teeth” behind the oft-cited “aspirations”?  

The new EU procurement directives from 2014 provided an opportunity for countries and cities to think differently about procurement, encouraging:

  • Greater flexibility
  • Increased engagement with SMEs
  • Wider social and environmental goals

Likewise, the Well-being of Future Generations Act calls on decision-makers to consider the wider impact of their procurement decisions and to look for (and score) “Added Value” in terms of impact on regional prosperity, resilience, health, equality, cohesiveness, culture and natural environment.

In the context of all this, it is concerning to note that continued funding for Construction Futures Wales has not yet been confirmed by Welsh Government.  CFW has had an important role to play in engaging with Major Buyers to run Meet the Buyer events and other assistance to both buyers and suppliers, so it will be crucial to understand what is intended to replace CFW if it ceases to exist beyond March.

Meanwhile, 4theRegion is exploring opportunities to map the regional supply chain through our regional map, and our Procurement Survey is still live if you would like to have your voice heard on anything relating to this topic.

And have you registered your interest in the upcoming City Centre Conference on 9th April?  We are hoping that Buckingham will be one of our speakers on the day, and we’ll be announcing more details very soon.

If you’d like to be kept in the loop as more details on any of the above become available, please make sure you’re connected with us at 4theRegion.  You can subscribe to our mailing list, or drop us an email, via our Contact Page.  You can also Join Us, if you haven’t already, to support our work to make change happen in positive ways for the region, including holding regional projects accountable to the supply chain, and promoting opportunities for all.

p.s. Please save the date for the Swansea City Centre Conference:

South Wales Must Say NO To Nuclear Waste Facility

South Wales Must Say NO To Nuclear Waste Facility

Swansea has a fresh challenge to contend with this week, with the announcement that UK Government is coming to both Swansea and Llandudno next month, to hold public events about its Site Evaluation proposals, in its search for communities willing to host a Nuclear Waste Facility.

The government’s Radioactive Waste Management department (RWM) has organised a series of events to help people understand the context of it’s proposed approach to Site Evaluation for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) and to answer any questions individuals or organisations may have about their current consultations.

Individuals and organisations are being invited to register their interest in attending the Swansea event on 12th March, or the Llandudno event on 14th March, by emailing siteevaluation@nda.gov.uk. You’ll need to provide:

  • your name, organisation (if any), and email
  • the date and city of your choice
  • your choice of the 12-3pm or 6-9pm session
  • any special requirements in terms of access and diet.

It’s not immediately clear whether Swansea or any other sites are currently being evaluated, and in whose hands any final decision will rest.  What is clear is the immediate strength of feeling in opposition to the idea. Cllr. Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, says he and his colleagues will be strongly opposing any scheme.

According to WalesOnline, the Welsh Government has said it supported the principle of finding a long-term solution for the most dangerous radioactive waste through burying it, but would only support such a site being in Wales if a community was willing to host it.

But residents and experts are shocked at the prospect of allowing nuclear wastes to be buried in Swansea.

Jill Gough, former National Secretary of CND Cymru, says that to dispose of radioactive waste beneath the ground anywhere in Wales – or anywhere on the planet, would be a disaster.

“We might think buried wastes will be safe for 100 or 1000 years, but it is not only Climate Change that makes the geological and hydro-geological future uncertain. Geology is constantly shifting. Some of these radioactive materials will remain dangerous to all living things for 250,000 years.”

What to do with the waste is the big unanswered question for the nuclear power industry, and it’s a key reason so many people oppose the very idea of generating nuclear energy in the first place. Jill says that Radioactive Waste should be:

  • Absolutely isolated from the ecosystem;
  • Not reprocessed in any way;
  • Not transported but stored near to the site where it was produced;
  • Constantly monitored;
  • Stored above ground in repackageable containers marked clearly with all languages;
  • Stored at well signposted very well guarded sites;
  • Well documented for future generations;
  • Generous and ring-fenced financial resources made available to maintain storage sites.

“Most of all – we should stop producing any more radioactive wastes immediately.” she says. “Those of us who have campaigned for decades against nuclear power across the UK have seen this serious radioactive waste problem looming.”

There is to be a generous financial “bribe” offered to communities willing to take the Radioactive Waste, which could seem tempting to struggling communities in our cash strapped corner of South West Wales.  The government website says that communities willing to take part in the Site Evaluation consultation process will receive £1m a year initially and up to £2.5m a year if boreholes are drilled

But Dawn Lyle, director of regional engagement at 4theRegion, says the government in Westminster is clearly not on the same page as local people when it comes to their vision for our region.

“We want a region that protects and enhances its natural environment, that prioritises the well-being of people, places and the planet – and looks after the well-being of future generations. This region certainly does not want to be an enabler for the nuclear power industry, which puts the future well-being of people and the planet in direct jeopardy. No amount of money could ever compensate for the possibility of future contamination of our land and our water.”

Joe Kidd, Vice-Chair of Marine Energy Wales, agrees.  “Welsh Government has been strongly supportive of the move to renewables, particularly the opportunity to take a global lead in marine energy. The Well-being of Future Generations Act is also lauded across Europe as a bold, positive step in the right direction. Unfortunately, getting our hands dirty with disposal of nuclear waste feels very out of kilter with this clean, green vision for the future.”

 

What do you think?

Please take part in our (totally unscientific) polls over on Twitter and Facebook.

There are a number of petitions up and running that you may wish to sign, including this one on Change.org

Swansea CND & Labour CND Cymru are also holding an organising meeting for those that want to protest the public meeting on 12th March.  The meeting will be held at the Environment Centre on Tuesday 19th Feb from 7pm.

Please let us know if you hear of other meetings relating to this issue and we will endeavour to share them widely.

And finally, whatever your views, please register to attend one of the public meetings on 12th March by emailing siteevaluation@nda.gov.uk.

4theRegion Members – let us know your views on this and any other regional matters by emailing info@4theRegion.com

4theRegion – Independent, Collaborative & for South West Wales

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p.s. Please save the date for the Swansea City Centre Conference: