Report of Corporate Director for People
Claire Moores, Whynott Transport Manager, presented the report and stated the following:
(i) as part of a transformation of the department and services, the Education Division sought authorisation to continue to procure transport for school travel. The main service areas utilising Social Care Transportation (including SEND Home-to-School), School Trips Transport and Council Staff Transportation services are Passenger Transport Service, Why Nott? Transport and the Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall;
(ii) approval would enable establishment of a DPS (Dynamic Purchasing System) for the contracting and supply of transportation from external transport operators;
(iii) Nottingham City Council’s Passenger Transport Service was now part of the Education Department, but has always functioned as a specialised transport provider for SEND and Vulnerable Pupils, Adult Social Care and other Adult and Children’s Services. Part of the home to school and adult day care specialised transport is provided internally by a fleet of 56 specially adapted passenger carrying vehicles. However, the majority of transport requirements were commissioned by a back office team from a range of local, private, specialised passenger transport operators and private hire operators. The value of the total contracts awarded in one year could be up to £3.7m, spread amongst a number of passenger transport operators and private hire operators that can provide the services within the Nottingham City area;
(iv) Nottingham City Council’s Why Nott? Transport, based in Curriculum and Enrichment, has a history of over 10 years of successfully supporting schools and Academies to access educational visits, school swimming and ice skating lessons. The service allows schools to secure the best price for their journey through a competitive process within a pool of pre-approved transport providers. The value of the total contracts awarded in one year could be up to £450,000, spread amongst a number of passenger transport operators and private hire operators that can provide the services within the Nottingham City area;
(v) Theatre Royal / Royal Concert Hall presents around 675 performances each year, attracting audiences in excess of 600,000. The service area is looking for suppliers of private hire vehicles mainly, but not exclusively, to enable staff to get home after their shifts end. The need for this could be 7 days a week from about 10.30pm through to 6am the following morning, depending on the production playing. This service would also extend to journeys for visiting company and cast between the location that they are staying for the week/night, as well as press engagements at local radio and TV stations. The value of the total contracts awarded in one year could be up to £12,000, spread amongst a number of passenger transport operators and private hire operators that can provide the services within the Nottingham City area;
(vi) the Council’s updated Contract Procedure Rules (Article 18 of the Constitution) and the Public Contract Regulations 2015 (PCR’s) stipulate that contracts should be aggregated where possible, in the event of multiple departments were procuring the same services, to maximise economies of scale and avid dis-aggregation of contracts and risking breaching the PCR’s. The service areas named in this report all have similar requirements operationally, therefore, creating a Dynamic Purchasing System offers a compliant and flexible solution, enabling multiple departments to meet the council’s Contract Procedure Rules and PCR’s, while also satisfying the service requirements of the named service areas;
(vii) benefits of a collective Dynamic Purchasing System for each service are:
- enablement of new operator inclusion on to the DPS when required (subject to satisfying qualification criteria), which could also offset instability of losing suppliers and increases competition;
- suppliers can apply at any time once the DPS is ‘live’ or enabled. If unsuccessful on first application, suppliers can re-apply (unlike a closed framework arrangement);
- enabling competition for each requirement, supporting best value;
- a streamlined procurement process for buyers and suppliers, which may be helpful for new/smaller suppliers;
- all suppliers on the DPS have undergone a due diligence exercise, ensuring they meet the minimum criteria;
- the contractual framework supports quality assurance.
(viii) benefits to children and citizens of providing an amalgamated DPS for the above services are as follows;
- the Passenger Transport Service enables not just access to education for children with special educational needs, but some of the most vulnerable adults in the city are able to access day care services whilst also enabling independent living within their own home;
- passengers travel on transport that meets pre-approved standards with regards to safety and quality of service and are attended by staff that can meet the needs of all passengers through quality assurance;
- a range of inclusive learning can be accessed outside the classroom activities to enhance children’s personal development, physical and mental health and life chances
(ix) benefits to schools and academies are that they can:
- evidence due diligence;
- secure best value through a competitive process;
- share vehicles with other schools to bring the costs down;
- receive support on a scale greater than the school alone should there be issues with quality;
- reduce the planning burden of providing inclusive learning outside the classroom experiences that contribute towards meeting CMO, National Curriculum and OFSTED Personal Development standards.
(x) benefits to Nottingham City Council in relation to implementing this service are as follows:
- other local authorities that have introduced a DPS have been able to evidence significant savings in the procurement process;
- use of the DPS allows competition in the local passenger transport market to be based on a fair and transparent vetting and bidding process;
- supports the local authority’s legal obligation to provide home to school transport for children with special educational needs;
- supports school attendance and inclusion for SEN children;
- facilitates a degree of control over the costs and quality of school swimming, ice skating and adventurous activity transport (which directly affects the booking volumes at Leisure Centres, NIC and NCC’s Adventure Centres);
- supports compliance with the Council’s statutory duties with regards to Health and Safety in maintained schools;
- supports maintained schools in offering an inclusive, broad and balanced curriculum that meets the requirements of the CMO, National Curriculum and OFSTED standards;
- supports the council’s financial governance processes;
(xi) Passenger Transport Service and WhyNott? Transport currently works with the vast majority of operators in Nottingham through competitive tender. This approval will enable the establishment of a DPS for the contracting and supply of transportation from external transport operators to be put in place for 10 years;
(xii) funding for the provision of these services are budgeted or have a transaction sold-service option within Adult and Children’s Services and Education budgets, as well as Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall, underpinned by contractual arrangements which provide the tools to monitor (embedded to ensure that spend is in line with budgets and forecasting). In order to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the service following the development of the DPS, staffing resources will need to be considered;
(xiii) in addition to the DPS system, the services seek to analyse improvements, for monitoring of contracts and further changes, and implementation to provide system links to process transactions, supporting further efficiencies surrounding procurement, ordering and payment solutions to make sure the automation and processing provides a supportive mechanism between tender and confirmation, providing processing efficiency throughout the transaction in its entirety.
In response to a question from the Committee, it was stated that, in regards to:
(xiv) Crime and Disorder Implications - the DPS supported the crime and disorder city-wide strategy by ensuring travel kept people safe with robust safeguarding and quality and assurance procedures applicable to all registered suppliers;
(xv) Social Value considerations – the DPS supported the social values of pupils attending educational settings without excess travel, thereby reducing carbon footprintsand enhancing learning outcomes and character development for the future in a safe and sustainable way.
(a) procurement of a 10-year Dynamic Purchasing System (with lots), subject to compliance with rules of the restricted procedure and subject to the provisions of regulation 34(5) of the PCR 2015 (regulation 34(5) and PCR 2015 Transportation Services, including Social Care Transportation (including SEND Home-to-School), School Trips Transport and Council staff transportation;
(b) spend of up to £4.162m per annum within the Dynamic Purchasing System on the award of complaint call-off contracts;
(2) delegate authority to the Corporate Director for People to:
(a) confirm economic operators/providers meet the selection criteria prior to being admitted to the specific Lots;
(b) tender for, and award and sign off, call-off contracts as appropriate;
(3) request that the Corporate Director for People ensures, where appropriate, social value and crime and disorder considerations are included in the Dynamic Purchasing System as part of the selection criteria for contracts.
Reasons for recommendations
(i) Each of these services needs a flexible and compliant solution to meet their needs, and that meets all statutory and legislative requirements to mitigate any operational and reputational risk for the Council.
(ii) The services provided by Passenger Transport Service and WhyNott? Transport are all well established and successful, both in terms of meeting service expectations and service continuity. For this reason, it would be recommended to amalgamate all of the named service areas under one overarching DPS as above.
(iii) Authorisation is sought to procure transportation on the basis that all contracts awarded under the DPS can be held account under simultaneous terms and conditions, as well as performance measurement. Alongside this, the services help to contribute positively to children and young people’s learning, personal development and a number of elements of the Council Plan. Ensuring affordable best value, high quality safe, and transit by capturing 90% of the market operators within the DPS in the Nottingham area.
(iv) The financial benefit associated with this can be addressed through the requirement for all providers on the DPS to commit to ensuring the efficient and effective running of all routes tendered for by making the Council aware of opportunities to amalgamate routes if services on certain routes are underutilised on assessment.
(v) In order to comply with NCC financial procedures and CPR regulations, to support a further ten years of contracting with suppliers and enable a DPS contracting agreement for our operators which supports the Compliant Purchasing Agreements to raise purchase orders in the Fusion system.
Other options considered
(i) The specialised passenger transport market is a niche business in the passenger transport market. Over many years we have been able to develop relationships with local specialised passenger transport operators but as the market has developed there is an opportunity for larger operators to price out smaller competitors. The development of a DPS specific to the needs of the Council ensures that all suppliers, regardless of size, can compliantly bid for contracts with the Council.
(ii) Framework – the creation of a framework agreement means that any new entrants to the market cannot join the agreement, regardless of if another supplier leaves. A framework agreement can also only be in place for a maximum of four years, currently.
(iii) Do nothing and continue to have separate contracts across the organisation – this option would not be compliant with the Council’s updated financial regulations and the Public Contract Regulations (2015).